Music: Afternoon in the Aspens by R. Carlos Nakai
All Rights Reserved
A Sioux Legend
The star blanket lit up the sky and the elders saw and prayed to their ancestors. They cried out for answers. "Why are we left here to starve? What
has happened to Tatanka Oyasin (the Buffalo Nation)?" The scouts had traveled very far in search for the once huge herds of buffalo. All of the
hunters returned only to report of the same mystery. After many weeks, their greatest hunter set out to find the answer to the mystery. His name
was Fire Deer.
Fire Deer traveled for many days. Eventually he came across the massive buffalo stampede tracks that plowed deep into the black soil on the grassy
plains. He followed them all the way into the mountains to the West. From there, the tracks headed to the pure North. It was up north where he
noticed that they went straight up the mountain side. The mountain was the largest and steepest one around. He labored his way all the way to the
top of the mountain, expecting to see the great herd. But the buffalo trail did not end, instead it changed from the churned up earth to a flowing river
of light in the night sky. Fire Deer returned to tell of his story to the elders.
The elders announced that the Buffalo were saved from the destruction of the children from overseas. They now live closer to our ancestors in the
sky. If you travel up north, you may see them there in a great stamped of colors in the sky. One day, when the Nations of people can live with all the
animals in harmony, all of the Buffalo Nation elders, who miss the Earth, shall return.
|Coyote and Wasichu
A Sioux Legend
There was a white man who was such a sharp trader that nobody ever got the better of him. Or so people said, until one day a man told the wasichu:
"There's somebody who can out-cheat you anytime, anywhere."
"That's not possible," said the wasichu. "I've had a trading post for many years, and I've cheated the Indians around here."
"Even so, Coyote can beat you in any deal."
"Let's see whether he can. Where is Coyote?"
"Over there, that tricky-looking guy."
"Okay, all right, I'll try him."
The wasichu trader went over to Coyote. "Hey lets see you outsmart me."
"I'm sorry," said Coyote, "I'd like to help you out, but I can't do it without my cheating medicine."
"Cheating medicine, hah! Go get it."
"I live miles from here and I'm on foot. But if you'd lend me your fast horse?"
"Well alright, you can borrow it. Go on home and get your cheating medicine!"
"Well, friend, I'm a poor rider. Your horse is afraid of me, and I'm afraid of him. Lend me your clothes; then your horse will think that I am you."
"Well, alright. Here are my clothes; now you can ride him. Go get that medicine. I'm sure I can beat it!"
So Coyote rode off with the wasichu's fast horse and his fine clothes, while the wasichu stood there bare-assed.
|How the Rabbit Lost His Tail
A Sioux Legend
Once upon a time there were two brothers, one a great genie and the other a rabbit. Like all genie, the older could change himself into any kind of
animal, bird, fish, cloud, thunder and lightning, or in fact anything he desired.
The younger brother (the rabbit) was very mischievous and was continually getting into all kinds of trouble. His older brother was kept busy getting
Rabbit out of all kinds of scraps.
When Rabbit had attained his full growth he wanted to travel around and see something of the world. When he told his brother what he intended to
do, the brother said: "Now, Rabbit, you are Witkotko (mischievous), so be very careful, and keep out of trouble as much as possible. In case you get
into any serious trouble, and can't get out by yourself, just call on me for assistance, and no matter where you are, I will come to you."
Rabbit started out and the first day he came to a very high house, outside of which stood a very high pine tree. So high was the tree that Rabbit could
hardly see the top.
Outside the door, on an enormous stool, sat a very large giant fast asleep. Rabbit (having his bow and arrows with him) strung up his bow, and,
taking an arrow from his quiver, said, "I want to see how big this man is, so I guess I will wake him up."
So saying he moved over to one side and took good aim, and shot the giant upon the nose. This stung like fire and awoke the giant, who jumped up,
crying: "Who had the audacity to shoot me on the nose?"
"I did," said Rabbit.
The giant, hearing a voice, looked all around, but saw nothing, until he looked down at the corner of the house, and there sat a rabbit.
"I had hiccups this morning and thought that I was going to have a good big meal, and here is nothing but a toothful."
"I guess you won't make a toothful of me," said Rabbit, "I am as strong as you, though I am little."
"We will see," said the giant. He went into the house and came out, bringing a hammer that weighed many tons.
"Now, Mr. Rabbit, we will see who can throw this hammer over the top of that tree."
"Get something harder to do," said Rabbit.
"Well, we will try this first," said the giant. With that he grasped the hammer in both hands, swung it three times around his head and sent it spinning
through the air. Up, up, it went, skimming the top of the tree, and came down, shaking the ground and burying itself deep into the Earth.
"Now," said the giant, "if you don't accomplish this same feat, I am going to swallow you at one mouthful."
Rabbit said, "I always sing to my brother before I attempt things like this." So he commenced singing and calling his brother. "Cinye! Cinye!"
(brother, brother) he sang. The giant grew nervous, and said, "Boy, why do you call your brother?"
Pointing to a small block cloud that was approaching very swiftly, Rabbit said: "That is my brother; he can destroy you, your house, and pine tree in
"Stop him and you can go free," said the giant. Rabbit waved his paws and the cloud disappeared.
From this place Rabbit continued on his trip towards the west. The next day, while passing through a deep forest, he thought he heard some one
moaning, as though in pain. He stopped and listened; soon the wind blew and the moaning grew louder. Following the direction from whence came
the sound, he soon discovered a man stripped of his clothing, and caught between two limbs of a tall elm tree. When the wind blew the limbs would
rub together and squeeze the man, who would give forth the mournful groans.
"My, you have a fine place up there. Let us change. You can come down and I will take your place." (Now this man had been placed up there for
punishment, by Rabbit's brother, and he could not get down unless some one came along and proposed to take his place on the tree). "Very well,"
said the man. "Take off your clothes and come up. I will fasten you in the limbs and you can have all the fun you want."
Rabbit disrobed and climbed up. The man placed him between the limbs and slid down the tree. He hurriedly got into Rabbit's clothes, and just as
had completed his toilet, the wind blew very hard. Rabbit was nearly crazy with pain, and screamed and cried. Then he began to cry "Cinye, Cinye"
(brother, brother). "Call your brother as much as you like, he can never find me." So saying the man disappeared in the forest.
Scarcely had he disappeared, when the brother arrived, and seeing Rabbit in the tree, said: "Which way did he go?" Rabbit pointed the direction
taken by the man. The brother flew over the top of the trees, soon found the man and brought him back, making him take his old place between the
limbs, and causing a heavy wind to blow and continue all afternoon and night, for punishment to the man for having placed his brother up there.
After Rabbit got his clothes back on, his brother gave him a good scolding, and wound up by saying: "I want you to be more careful in the future. I
have plenty of work to keep me as busy as I want to be, and I can't be stopping every little while to be making trips to get you out of some foolish
scrape. It was only yesterday that I came five hundred miles to help you from the giant, and today I have had to come a thousand miles, so be more
careful from now on."
Several days after this the Rabbit was traveling along the banks of a small river, when he came to a small clearing in the woods, and in the center of
the clearing stood a nice little log hut. Rabbit was wondering who could be living here when the door slowly opened and an old man appeared in the
doorway, bearing a tripe water pail in his right hand. In his left hand he held a string which was fastened to the inside of the house. He kept hold of
the string and came slowly down to the river. When he got to the water he stooped down and dipped the pail into it and returned to the house, still
holding the string for guidance.
Soon he reappeared holding on to another string, and, following this one, went to a large pile of wood and returned to the house with it. Rabbit
wanted to see if the old man would come out again, but he came out no more. Seeing smoke ascending from the mud chimney, he thought he would
go over and see what the old man was doing. He knocked at the door, and a weak voice bade him enter. He noticed that the old man was cooking
"Hello Tunkasina (grandfather), you must have a nice time, living here alone. I see that you have everything handy. You can get wood and water,
and that is all you have to do. How do you get your provisions?"
"The wolves bring my meat, the mice my rice and ground beans, and the birds bring me the cherry leaves for my tea. Yet it is a hard life, as I am all
alone most of the time and have no one to talk to, and besides, I am blind."
"Say, grandfather,: said Rabbit, "let us change places. I think I would like to live here."
"If we exchange clothes," said the other, "you will become old and blind, while I will assume your youth and good looks." (Now, this old man was
placed here for punishment by Rabbit's brother. He had killed his wife, so the genie made him old and blind, and he would remain so until some one
came who would exchange places with him."
"I don't care for youth and good looks," said Rabbit, "let us make the change."
They changed clothes, and Rabbit became old and blind, whilst the old man became young and handsome.
"Well, I must go," said the man. He went out and cutting the strings close to the door, ran off laughing. "You will get enough of your living alone,
you crazy boy," and saying this he ran into the woods.
Rabbit thought he would like to get some fresh water and try the string paths so that he would get accustomed to it. He bumped around the room and
finally found the tripe water bucket. He took hold of the string and started out.
When he had gotten a short distance from the door he came to the end of the string so suddenly, that he lost the end which he had in his hand, and he
wandered about, bumping against the trees, and tangling himself up in plum bushes and thorns, scratching his face and hands so badly that the
blood ran from them. Then it was that he commenced again to cry, "Cinye! Cinye!" (brother, brother). Soon his brother arrived, and asked which
way the old man had gone.
"I don't know," said Rabbit, "I couldn't see which path he took, as I was blind."
The genie called the birds, and they came flying from every direction. As fast as they arrived the brother asked them if they had seen the man whom
he had placed here for punishment, but none had seen him.
The owl came last, and when asked if he had seen the man, he said "hoo-hoo."
"the man who lived here," said the brother. "Last night I was hunting mice in the woods south of here and I saw a man sleeping beneath a plum tree.
I thought it was your brother, Rabbit, so I didn't awaken him," said the owl.
"Good for you, owl," said the brother, "for this good news, you shall hereafter roam around only at night, and I will fix your eyes, so the darker the
night the better you will be able to see. You will always have the fine cool nights to hunt your food. You other birds can hunt your food during the hot
daylight." (Since then the owl has been the night bird.)
The brother flew to the woods and brought the man back and cut the strings short, and said to him: "Now you can get a taste of what you gave my
To Rabbit he said: "I ought not to have helped you this time. Any one who is so crazy as to change places with a blind man should be left without
help, so be careful, as I am getting tired of your foolishness, and will not help you again if you do anything as foolish as you did this time."
Rabbit started to return to his home. When he had nearly completed his journey he came to a little creek, and being thirsty took a good long drink.
While he was drinking he heard a noise as though a wolf or cat was scratching the Earth. Looking up to a hill which overhung the creek, he saw four
wolves, with their tails intertwined, pulling with all their might. As Rabbit came up to them one pulled loose, and Rabbit saw that his tail was broken.
"Let me pull tails with you. My tail is long and strong," said Rabbit, and the wolves assenting, Rabbit interlocked his long tail with those of the three
wolves and commenced pulling and the wolves pulled so hard that they pulled Rabbit's tail off at the second joint. The wolves disappeared.
"Cinye! Cinye! (Brother, brother.) I have lost my tail," cried Rabbit. The genie came and seeing his brother Rabbit's tail missing, said, "You look
better without a tail anyway."
From that time on rabbits have had no tails.
|The Bear and the Rabbit hunt Buffalo
A Sioux Legend
Once upon a time there lived as neighbors a bear and a rabbit. The rabbit was a good shot, and the bear being very clumsy could not use the arrow to
The bear was very unkind to the rabbit. Every morning, the bear would call over to the rabbit and say, "Take your bow and arrows and come with
me to the other side of the hill. A large herd of buffalo are grazing there, and I want you to shoot some of them for me, as my children are crying for
The rabbit, fearing to arouse the bear's anger by refusing, consented and went with the bear, and shot enough buffalo to satisfy the hungry family.
Indeed, he shot and killed so many that there was lots of meat left after the bear and his family had loaded themselves, and packed all they could carry
The bear being very gluttonous, and not wanting the rabbit to get any of the meat, said, "Rabbit, you come along home with us and we will return
and get the remainder of the meat."
The poor rabbit could not even taste the blood from the butchering, as the bear would throw earth on the blood and dry it up. Poor Rabbit would have
to go home hungry after his hard day's work.
The bear was the father of five children. The youngest boy was very kind to the rabbit. The mother bear, knowing that her youngest was a very
hearty eater, always gave him an extra large piece of meat. What the baby bear did not eat, he would take outside with him and pretend to play ball
with it, kicking it toward the rabbit's house, and when he got close to the door he would give the meat such a great kick, that it would fly into the
rabbit's house, and in this way poor Rabbit would get his meal unknown to the papa bear.
Baby bear never forgot his friend Rabbit. Papa bear often wondered why his baby would go outside after each meal. He grew suspicious and asked
the baby where he had been.
"Oh, I always play ball outside, around the house, and when I get tired playing I eat up my meat ball and then come in."
The baby bear was too cunning to let papa bear know that he was keeping his friend rabbit from starving to death. Nevertheless, papa bear
suspected baby and said: "Baby, I think you go over to the rabbit's after every meal."
The four older brothers were very handsome, but baby bear was a little puny fellow, whose coat couldn't keep out much cold, as it was short and
shaggy, and of a dirty brown color. The three older brothers were very unkind to baby bear, but the fourth one always took baby's part, and was
always kind to his baby brother.
Rabbit was getting tired of being ordered and bullied around by papa bear. He puzzled his brain to scheme some way of getting even with Mr. Bear
for abusing him so much. He studied all night long, but no scheme worth trying presented itself. Early one morning Mr. Bear presented himself at
"Say, Rabbit, my meat is all used up, and there is a fine herd of buffalo grazing on the hillside. Get your bow and arrows and come with me. I want
you to shoot some of them for me."
"Very well," said Rabbit, and he went and killed six buffalo for Bear. Bear got busy butchering and poor Rabbit, thinking he would get a chance to
lick up one mouthful of blood, stayed very close to the bear while he was cutting up the meat.
The bear was very watchful lest the rabbit get something to eat. Despite bear's watchfulness, a small clot of blood rolled past and behind the bear's
feet. At once Rabbit seized the clot and hid it in his bosom. By the time Rabbit got home, the blood clot was hardened from the warmth of his body,
so, being hungry, it put Mr. Rabbit out of sorts to think that after all his trouble he could not eat the blood.
Very badly disappointed, he lay down on his floor and gazed up into the chimney hole. Disgusted with the way things had turned out, he grabbed up
the blood clot and threw it up through the hole.
Scarcely had it hit the ground when he heard the voice of a baby crying, "Ate! Ate!" (father, father). He went outside and there he found a big baby
boy. He took the baby into his house and threw him out through the hole again. This time the boy was large enough to say "Ate, Ate, he-cun-sin-lo."
(Father, father, don't do that.)
But nevertheless, he threw him up and out again. On going out the third time, there stood a handsome youth smiling at him. Rabbit at once adopted
the youth and took him into his house, seating him in the seat of honor (which is directly opposite the entrance), and saying: "My son, I want you to
be a good, honest, straightforward man. Now, I have in my possession a fine outfit, and you, my son, shall wear it."
Suiting his action to his words, he drew out a bag from a hollow tree and on opening it, drew out a fine buckskin shirt (tanned white as snow),
worked with porcupine quills. Also a pair of red leggings worked with beads. Moccasins worked with colored hair. A fine otter skin robe. White
weasel skins to intertwine with his beautiful long black locks. A magnificent center eagle feather. A rawhide covered bow, accompanied by a quiver
full of flint arrowheads.
The rabbit, having dressed his son in all the latest finery, sat back and gazed long and lovingly at his handsome son. Instinctively Rabbit felt that his
son had been sent him for the purpose of being instrumental in the downfall of Mr. Bear, as events will show.
The morning following the arrival of Rabbit's son, Mr. Bear again presents himself at the door, crying out: "You lazy, ugly rabbit, get up and come
out here. I want you to shoot some more buffalo for me."
"Who is this, who speaks so insultingly to you, father?" asked the son.
"It is a bear who lives near here, and makes me kill buffalo for his family, and he won't let me take even one little drop of blood from the killing, and
consequently, my son, I have nothing in my house for you to eat."
The young man was anxious to meet Mr. Bear but Rabbit advised him to wait a little until he and Bear had gone to the hunt. So the son obeyed, and
when he thought it time that the killing was done, he started out and arrived on the scene just as Mr. Bear was about to proceed with his butchering.
Seeing a strange shadow on the ground beside him, Mr. Bear looked up and gazed into the fearless eyes of rabbit's handsome son.
"Who is this?" asked Mr. Bear of poor little Rabbit.
"I don't know," answered Rabbit.
"Who are you?" asked the bear of Rabbit's son. "Where did you come from?"
The Rabbit's son not replying, the bear spoke thus to him: "Get out of here, and get out quick, too."
At this speech the rabbit's son became angered, and fastened an arrow to his bow and drove the arrow through the bear's heart. Then he turned on
Mrs. Bear and served her likewise. During the melee, Rabbit shouted: "My son, my son, don't kill the two youngest. The baby has kept me from
starving and the other one is good and kind to his baby brother."
So the three older brothers who were unkind to their baby brother met a similar fate to that of their selfish parents.
This is the reason that bears travel only in pairs.
|The Bound Children
A Sioux Legend
There once lived a widow with two children; the elder a daughter and the younger a son. The widow went in mourning for her husband a long time.
She cut off her hair, let her dress lie untidy on her body and kept her face unpainted and unwashed.
There lived in the same village a great chief. He had one son just come old enough to marry. The chief had it known that he wished his son to take a
wife, and all of the young women in the village were eager to marry the young man. However, he was pleased with none of them.
Now the widow thought, "I am tired of mourning for my husband and caring for my children. Perhaps if I lay aside my mourning and paint myself
red, the chief's son may marry me."
So she slipped away from her two children, stole down to the river and made a bathing place through the ice. When she had washed away all signs of
mourning, she painted and decked herself and went to the chief's tipi. When his son saw her, he loved her, and a feast was made in honor of her
When the widow's daughter found herself forsaken, she wept bitterly. After a day or two she took her little brother in her arms and went to the tipi of
an old woman who lived at one end of the village. The old woman's tumble down tipi was of bark and her dress and clothing were of old smoke-dried
tent cover. But she was kind to the two waifs and took them in willingly.
The little girl was eager to find her mother. The old woman said to her: "I suspect your mother has painted her face red. Do not try to find her. If the
chief's son marries her she will not want to be burdened with you."
The old woman was right. The girl went down to the river, and sure enough found a hole cut in the ice and about it lay the filth that the mother had
washed from her body. The girl gathered up the filth and went on. By and by she came to a second hole in the ice. Here too was filth, but not so much
as at the previous place. At the third hole the ice was clean.
The girl knew now that her mother had painted her face red. She went at once to the chief's tipi, raised the door flap and went in. There sat her mother
with the chief's son at their wedding feast.
The girl walked up to her mother and hurled the filth in her mother's face.
"There," she cried, "you who forsake your helpless children and forget your husband, take that!"
And at once her mother became a hideous old woman.
The girl then went back to the lodge of the old woman, leaving the camp in an uproar. The chief soon sent some young warriors to seize the girl and
her brother, and they were brought to his tipi. He was furious with anger.
"Let the children be bound with lariats wrapped about their bodies and let them be left to starve. Our camp will move on," he said. The chief's son did
not put away his wife, hoping she might be cured in some way and grow young again.
Everybody in camp now got ready to move; but the old woman came close to the girl and said, "In my old tipi I have dug a hole and buried a pot with
punk and steel and flint and packs of dried meat. They will tie you up like a corpse. But before we go I will come with a knife and pretend to stab you,
but I will really cut the rope that binds you so that you can unwind it from your body as soon as the camp is out of sight and hearing."
And so, before the camp started, the old woman came to the place where the two children were bound. She had in her hand a knife bound to the end of
a stick which she used as a lance. She stood over the children and cried aloud, "You wicked girl, who have shamed your own mother, you deserve all
the punishment that is given you. But after all I do not want to let you lie and starve. Far better kill you at once and have it done with!" and with her
stick she stabbed many times, as if to kill, but she was really cutting the rope.
The camp moved on; but the children lay on the ground until noon the next day. Then they began to squirm about. Soon the girl was free, and she
then set loose her little brother. They went at once to the old woman's hut where they found the flint and steel and the packs of dried meat.
The girl made her brother a bow and arrows and with these he killed birds and other small game.
The boy grew up a great hunter. They became rich. They built three great tipi's, in one of which were stored rows upon rows of parfleche bags of
One day as the brother went out to hunt, he met a handsome young stranger who greeted him and said to him, "I know you are a good hunter, for I
have been watching you; your sister, too, is industrious. Let me have her for a wife. Then you and I will be brothers and hunt together."
The girl's brother went home and told her what the young stranger had said.
"Brother, I do not care to marry," she answered. "I am now happy with you."
"But you will be yet happier married," he answered, "and the young stranger is of not mean family, as one can see by his dress and manners."
"Very well, I will do as you wish," she said. So the stranger came into the tipi and was the girl's husband.
One day as they were in their tent, a crow flew overhead, calling out loudly, "Kaw, Kaw, They who forsook the children have no meat."
The girl and her husband and brother looked up at one another.
"What can it mean?" they asked. "Let us send for Unktomi (the spider). He is a good judge and he will know."
"And I will get ready a good dinner for him, for Unktomi is always hungry," added the young wife.
When Unktomi came, his yellow mouth opened with delight at the fine feast spread for him. After he had eaten he was told what the crow had said.
"The crow means," said Unktomi, "that the villagers and chief who bound and deserted you are in sad plight. They have hardly anything to eat and
When the girl heard this she made a bundle of choicest meat and called the crow.
"Take this to the starving villagers," she bade him.
He took the bundle in his beak, flew away to the starving village and dropped the bundle before the chief's tipi. The chief came out and the crow called
loudly, "Kaw, Kaw! The children who were forsaken have much meat; those who forsook them have none."
"What can he mean?" cried the astonished villagers.
"Let us send for Unktomi," said one, "he is a great judge; he will tell us."
They divided the bundle of meat among the starving people, saving the biggest piece for Unktomi.
When Unktomi had come and eaten, the villagers told him of the crow and asked what the birds words meant.
"He means," said Unktomi, "that the two children whom you forsook have tipi's full of dried meat enough for all the village."
The villagers were filled with astonishment at this news. To find whether or not it was true, the chief called seven young men and sent them out to see.
They came to the three tipi's and there met the girl's brother and husband just going out to hunt (which they did now only for sport).
The girl's brother invited the seven young men into the third or sacred lodge, and after they had smoked a pipe and knocked out the ashes on a buffalo
bone the brother gave them meat to eat, which the seven devoured greedily. The next day he loaded all seven with packs of meat saying, "Take this
meat to the villagers and lead them hither."
While they awaited the return of the young men with the villagers, the girl made two bundles of meat, one of the best and choicest pieces, and the other
of liver, very dry and hard to eat.
After a few days the camp arrived. The young woman's mother opened the door and ran in crying: "Oh, my dear daughter, how glad I am to see
you." But the daughter received her coldly and gave her the bundle of dried liver to eat. But when the old woman who had saved the children's lives
came in, the young girl received her gladly, called her grandmother, and gave her the package of choice meat with marrow.
Then the whole village camped and ate of the stores of meat all the winter until spring came; and withal they were so many, there was such
abundance of stores that there was still much left.
|The Boy and the Turtles
A Sioux Legend
A boy went on a turtle hunt, and after following the different streams for hours, finally came to the conclusion that the only place he would find any
turtles would be at the little lake, where the tribe always hunted them.
So, leaving the stream he had been following, he cut across country to the lake. On drawing near the lake he crawled on his hands and knees in order
not to be seen by the turtles, who were very watchful, as they had been hunted so much.
Peeping over the rock he saw a great many out on the shore sunning themselves, so he very cautiously undressed, so he could leap into the water and
catch them before they secreted themselves. But on pulling off his shirt one of his hands was held up so high that the turtles saw it and jumped into the
lake with a great splash.
The boy ran to the shore, but saw only bubbles coming up from the bottom. Directly the boy saw something coming to the surface, and soon it came
into sight. It was a little man, and soon others, by the hundreds, came up and swam about, splashing the water up into the air to a great height. So
scared was the boy that he never stopped to gather up his clothes but ran home naked and fell into his grandmother's tent door.
"What is the trouble, grandchild," cried the old woman.
But the boy could not answer.
"Did you see anything unnatural?"
He shook his head, "no." He made signs to the grandmother that his lungs were pressing so hard against his sides that he could not talk. He kept
beating his side with his clenched hands.
The grandmother got out her medicine bag, made a prayer to the Great Spirit to drive out the evil spirit that had entered her grandson's body, and after
she had applied the medicine, the prayer must have been heard and answered, as the boy commenced telling her what he had heard and seen.
The grandmother went to the chief's tent and told what her grandson had seen. The chief sent two brave warriors to the lake to ascertain whether it
was true or not. The two warriors crept to the little hill close to the lake, and there, sure enough, the lake was swarming with little men swimming
about, splashing the water high up into the air. The warriors, too, were scared and hurried home, and in the council called on their return told what
they had seen.
The boy was brought to the council and given the seat of honor (opposite the door), and was named "Wankan Wanyanka" (sees holy).
The lake had formerly borne the name of Truth Lake, but from this time on was called "Wicasa-bde"-- Man Lake.
|The Faithful Lovers
A Sioux Legend
There once lived a chief's daughter who had many relations. All the young men in the village wanted to have her for wife, and were all eager to fill her
skin bucket when she went to the brook for water.
There was a young man in the village who was industrious and a good hunter, but he was poor and of a mean family. He loved the maiden and when
she went for water, he threw his robe over her head while he whispered in her ear, "Be my wife. I have little but I am young and strong. I will treat you
well, for I love you."
For a long time the maiden did not answer, but one day she whispered back, "Yes, you may ask my father's leave to marry me. But first you must do
something noble. I belong to a great family and have many relations. You must go on a war party and bring back the scalp of an enemy."
The young man answered modestly, "I will try to do as you bid me. I am only a hunter, not a warrior. Whether I shall be brave or not I do not know.
But I will try to take a scalp for your sake."
So he made a war party of seven, himself and six other young men. They wandered through the enemy's country, hoping to get a chance to strike a
blow. But none came, for they found no one of the enemy.
"Our medicine is unfavorable," said their leader at last. "We shall have to return home."
Before they started they sat down to smoke and rest beside a beautiful lake at the foot of a green knoll that rose from its shore. The knoll was covered
with green grass and somehow, as they looked at it, they had a feeling that there was something about it that was mysterious or uncanny.
But there was a young man in the party named the jester, for he was venturesome and full of fun. Gazing at the knoll he said. "Let's go and jump on its
"No," said the young lover, "it looks mysterious. Sit still and finish your smoke."
"Oh, come on, who's afraid," said the jester, laughing. "Come on you-- come on!" and springing to his feet he ran up the side of the knoll.
Four of the young men followed. Having reached the top of the knoll all five began to jump and stamp about in sport, calling, "Come on, come on," to
Suddenly they stopped-- the knoll had begun to move toward the water. It was a gigantic turtle.
The five men cried out in alarm and tried to run-- too late! Their feet by some power were held fast to the monster's back.
"Help us-- drag us away," they cried; but the others could do nothing. In a few moments the waves had closed over them.
The other two men, the lover and his friend, went on, but with heavy hearts, for they had foreboding's of evil. After some days, they came to a river.
Worn with fatigue the lover threw himself down on the bank.
"I will sleep awhile," he said, "for I am wearied and worn out."
"And I will go down to the water and see if I can chance upon a dead fish. At this time of the year the high water my have left one stranded on the
seashore," said his friend. And as he had said, he found a fish which he cleaned, and then called to the lover.
"Come and eat the fish with me. I have cleaned it and made a fire and it is now cooking."
"No, you eat it; let me rest," said the lover.
"Oh, come on," said the friend.
"No, let me rest," the lover answered.
"But you are my friend. I will not eat unless you share it with me," the friend said.
"Very well," said the lover, "I will eat the fish with you, but you must first make me a promise. If I eat the fish, you must promise, pledge yourself, to
fetch me all the water that I can drink."
"I promise," said the other, and the two ate the fish out of their war-kettle. For there had been but one kettle for the party.
When they had eaten, the kettle was rinsed out and the lover's friend brought it back full of water. This the lover drank at a draught.
"Bring me more," he said.
Again his friend filled the kettle at the river and again the lover drank it dry. "More!" he cried.
"Oh, I am tired. Can't you go to the river and drink your fill from the stream?" asked his friend.
"Remember your promise," he said.
"Yes, but I am weary. Go now and drink," said the friend.
"Ek-hey, I feared it would be so. Now trouble is coming upon us," said the lover sadly. He walked to the river, sprang in, and lying down in the water
with his head toward land, drank greedily.
By and by he called to his friend. "Come hither, you who have been my sworn friend. See what comes of your broken promise."
The friend came and was amazed to see that the lover was now a fish from his feet to his middle. Sick at heart he ran off a little way and threw himself
upon the ground in grief. By and by he returned. The lover was now a fish to his neck.
"Cannot I cut off the part and restore you by a sweat bath?" the friend asked.
"No, it is too late. But tell the chief's daughter that I loved her to the last and that I die for her sake. Take this belt and give it to her. She gave it to me as
a pledge of her love for me," and he being then turned to a great fish, swam to the middle of the river and there remained, only his great fin remaining
above the water.
The friend went home and told his story. There was great mourning over the death of the five young men, and for the lost lover. In the river the great
fish remained, its fin just above the surface, and was called by the Indians "Fish that Bars," because it barred navigation.
Canoes had to be portaged at great labor around the obstruction.
The chief's daughter mourned for her lover as for a husband, nor would she be comforted. "He was lost for love of me, and I shall remain as his
widow," she wailed.
In her mother's tepee she sat, with her head covered with her robe, silent, working, working.
"What is my daughter doing," her mother asked. But the maiden did not reply.
The days lengthened into moons until a year had passed. And then the maiden arose. In her hands were beautiful articles of clothing, enough for three
men. There were three pairs of moccasins, three pairs of leggings, three belts, three shirts, three head dresses with beautiful feathers, and sweet
"Make a new canoe of bark," she said, which was made for her.
Into the canoe she stepped and floated slowly down the river toward the great fish.
"Come back my daughter," her mother cried in agony. "The great fish will eat you."
She answered nothing.
Her canoe came to the place where the great fin arose and stopped, its prow grating on the monster's back. The maiden stepped out boldly. One by one
she laid her presents on the fish's back, scattering the feathers and tobacco over his broad spine.
"Oh, fish," she cried, "Oh, fish, you who were my lover, I shall not forget you. Because you were lost for love of me, I shall never marry. All my life I
shall remain a widow. Take these presents. And now leave the river, and let the waters run free, so my people may once more descend in their canoes."
She stepped into her canoe and waited. Slowly the great fish sank, his broad fin disappeared, and the waters of the St. Croix (Stillwater) were free.
|The Forgotten Ear of Corn
A Sioux Legend
An Arikara woman was once gathering corn from the field to store away for winter use. She passed from stalk to stalk, tearing off the ears and
dropping them into her folded robe.
When all was gathered she started to go, when she heard a faint voice, like a child's, weeping and calling: "Oh, do not leave me! Do not go away
The woman was astonished. "What child can that be?" she asked herself. "What babe can be lost in the cornfield?"
She set down her robe in which she had tied up her corn, and went back to search; but she found nothing. As she started away she heard the voice
again, "Oh, do not leave me. Do not go away without me."
She searched for a long time. At last in one corner of the field, hidden under the leaves of the stalks, she found one little ear of corn.
This it was that had been crying, and this is why all Indian women have since gathered their corn crop very carefully, so that the succulent food product
should not even to the last small nubbin be neglected or wasted, and thus displease the Great Mystery.
|The Four Brothers;
Inyanhoksila (Stone Boy)
A Sioux Legend
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 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
"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 sleep.
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 bright vermilion.
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 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, 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 it 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
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 dead.
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 seized 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.
"well, 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
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
Next he cut willows and stuck them into the ground in a circle. The tops he pulled together, making a wickiup. He then took the old woman's robes and
blankets and covered the wickiup 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 wickiup 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 wickiup. 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 ties 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
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
"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 jelly.
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
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 now.
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 hear 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 feet away.
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 hillside rose as great clouds of smoke from a fores 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 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 bridges 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, them 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 feast 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 Gift of Corn
A Sioux Legend
In a deep forest, far from the villages of his people, lived a hermit. His tent was made of buffalo skins, and his dress was made of deer skin. Far from
the haunts of any human being this old hermit was content to spend his days.
All day long he would wander through the forest studying the different plants of nature and collecting precious roots, which he uses as medicine. At long
intervals some warrior would arrive at the tent of the old hermit and get medicine roots from him for the tribe, the old hermit's medicine being
considered far superior to all others.
After a long day's ramble in the woods, the hermit came home late, and being very tired, at once lay down on his bed and was just dozing off to sleep,
when he felt something rub against his foot. Awakening with a start, he noticed a dark object and an arm was extended to him, holding in its hand a
flint pointed arrow.
The hermit thought, "This must be a spirit, as there is no human being around here but myself!"
A voice then said: "Hermit, I have come to invite you to my home."
"How (yes), I will come," said the old hermit. Wherewith ht arose, wrapped his robe about him and followed.
Outside the door he stopped and looked around, but could see no signs of the dark object.
"Whoever you are, or whatever you be, wait for me, as I don't know where to go to find your house," said the hermit.
Not an answer did he receive, nor could he hear any noises as though anyone was walking through the brush.
Re-entering his tent he retired and was soon fast asleep. The next night the same thing occurred again, and the hermit followed the object out, only to be
left as before.
He was very angry to think that anyone should be trying to make sport of him, and he determined to find out who this could be who was disturbing his
The next evening he cut a hole in the tent large enough to stick an arrow through, and stood by the door watching.
Soon the dark object came and stopped outside of the door, and said, "Grandfather, I came to--," but he never finished the sentence, for the old man let
go his arrow, and he heard the arrow strike something which produced a sound as though he shot into a sack of pebbles.
He did not go out that night to see what his arrow had struck, but early next morning he went out and looked at the spot about where he thought the
object had stood. There on the ground lay a little heap of corn, and from this little heap a small line of corn lay scattered along a path. This he followed
far into the woods. When he came to a very small knoll the trail ended. At the end of the trail was a large circle from which the grass had been scraped
"The corn trail stops at the edge of this circle," said the old man, "so this must be the home of whoever it was that invited me." He took his bone knife and
hatchet and proceeded to dig down into the center of the circle. When he had got down to the length of his arm, he came to a sack of dried meat. Next he
found a sack of Indian turnips, then a sack of dried cherries; then a sack of corn, and last of all another sack, empty except that there was about a cupful
of corn in one corner of it, and that the sack had a hole in the other corner where his arrow had pierced it.
From this hole in the sack the corn was scattered along the trail, which guided the old man to the hiding place.
From this the hermit taught the tribes how to keep their provisions when traveling and were overloaded. He explained to them how they should dig a pit
and put their provisions into it and cover them with earth.
By this method the Indians used to keep provisions all summer, and when fall came they would return to their cache, and on opening it would find
everything as fresh as the day they were place there.
The old hermit was also thanked as the discoverer of corn, which had never been known to the Indians until discovered by the old hermit.