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Note: I have made the following changes to the text:
PAGE PARA. LINE ORIGINALLY CHANGED TO
12 3 3 one? one?"
23 2 1 men man
26 11 4 me, me,"
42 7 5 earth. earth."
117 1 12 scorceress. sorceress.
130 2 8 horse tide horse tied
130 2 14 parflesh parfleche
131 1 10 parflesh parfleche
154 12 party than an party that an
177 1 13 wickie-up wickieup
177 1 15 wickee-up wickieup
178 2 wickee-up wickieup
Myths and Legends of the Sioux
MYTHS AND LEGENDS
OF THE SIOUX
MRS. MARIE L. MCLAUGHLIN
In loving memory of my mother,
MARY GRAHAM BUISSON,
at whose knee most of the stories
contained in this little volume
were told to me, this book is affec-
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Forgotten Ear of Corn
The Little Mice
The Pet Rabbit
The Pet Donkey
The Rabbit and the Elk
The Rabbit and the Grouse Girls
The Faithful Lovers
The Artichoke and the Muskrat
The Rabbit, and the Bear with the Flint Body
Story of the Lost Wife
The Raccoon and the Crawfish
Legend of Standing Rock
Story of the Peace Pipe
A Bashful Courtship
The Simpleton's Wisdom
Little Brave and the Medicine Woman
The Bound Children
The Signs of Corn
Story of the Rabbits
How the Rabbit Lost His Tail
Unktomi and the Arrowheads
The Bear and the Rabbit Hunt Buffalo
The Brave Who Went on the Warpath Alone and
Won the Name of the Lone Warrior
The Sioux Who Married the Crow Chief's
The Boy and the Turtles
The Hermit, or the Gift of Corn
The Mysterious Butte
The Wonderful Turtle
The Man and the Oak
Story of the Two Young Friends
The Story of the Pet Crow
The "Wasna" (Pemmican Man) and the Unktomi (Spider)
The Resuscitation of the Only Daughter
The Story of the Pet Crane
Story of Pretty Feathered Forehead
The Four Brothers or Inyanhoksila (Stone Boy)
The Unktomi (Spider), Two Widows and the Red Plums
In publishing these "Myths of the Sioux," I deem it proper to state
that I am of one-fourth Sioux blood. My maternal grandfather,
Captain Duncan Graham, a Scotchman by birth, who had seen service
in the British Army, was one of a party of Scotch Highlanders who
in 1811 arrived in the British Northwest by way of York Factory,
Hudson Bay, to found what was known as the Selkirk Colony, near
Lake Winnipeg, now within the province of Manitoba, Canada. Soon
after his arrival at Lake Winnipeg he proceeded up the Red River of
the North and the western fork thereof to its source, and thence
down the Minnesota River to Mendota, the confluence of the
Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers, where he located. My
grandmother, Ha-za-ho-ta-win, was a full-blood of the Medawakanton
Band of the Sioux Tribe of Indians. My father, Joseph Buisson,
born near Montreal, Canada, was connected with the American Fur
Company, with headquarters at Mendota, Minnesota, which point was
for many years the chief distributing depot of the American Fur
Company, from which the Indian trade conducted by that company on
the upper Mississippi was directed.
I was born December 8, 1842, at Wabasha, Minnesota, then Indian
country, and resided thereat until fourteen years of age, when I
was sent to school at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.
I was married to Major James McLaughlin at Mendota, Minnesota,
January 28, 1864, and resided in Minnesota until July 1, 1871, when
I accompanied my husband to Devils Lake Agency, North Dakota, then
Dakota Territory, where I remained ten years in most friendly
relations with the Indians of that agency. My husband was Indian
agent at Devils Lake Agency, and in 1881 was transferred to
Standing Rock, on the Missouri River, then a very important agency,
to take charge of the Sioux who had then but recently surrendered
to the military authorities, and been brought by steamboat from
various points on the upper Missouri, to be permanently located on
the Standing Rock reservation.
Having been born and reared in an Indian community, I at an early
age acquired a thorough knowledge of the Sioux language, and having
lived on Indian reservations for the past forty years in a position
which brought me very near to the Indians, whose confidence I
possessed, I have, therefore, had exceptional opportunities of
learning the legends and folk-lore of the Sioux.
The stories contained in this little volume were told me by the
older men and women of the Sioux, of which I made careful notes as
related, knowing that, if not recorded, these fairy tales would be
lost to posterity by the passing of the primitive Indian.
The notes of a song or a strain of music coming to us through the
night not only give us pleasure by the melody they bring, but also
give us knowledge of the character of the singer or of the
instrument from which they proceed. There is something in the
music which unerringly tells us of its source. I believe musicians
call it the "timbre" of the sound. It is independent of, and
different from, both pitch and rhythm; it is the texture of the
The "timbre" of a people's stories tells of the qualities of that
people's heart. It is the texture of the thought, independent of
its form or fashioning, which tells the quality of the mind from
which it springs.
In the "timbre" of these stories of the Sioux, told in the lodges
and at the camp fires of the past, and by the firesides of the
Dakotas of today, we recognize the very texture of the thought of
a simple, grave, and sincere people, living in intimate contact and
friendship with the big out-of-doors that we call Nature; a race
not yet understanding all things, not proud and boastful, but
honest and childlike and fair; a simple, sincere, and gravely
thoughtful people, willing to believe that there may be in even the
everyday things of life something not yet fully understood; a race
that can, without any loss of native dignity, gravely consider the
simplest things, seeking to fathom their meaning and to learn their
lesson--equally without vain-glorious boasting and trifling
cynicism; an earnest, thoughtful, dignified, but simple and
To the children of any race these stories can not fail to give
pleasure by their vivid imaging of the simple things and creatures
of the great out-of-doors and the epics of their doings. They will
also give an intimate insight into the mentality of an interesting
race at a most interesting stage of development, which is now fast
receding into the mists of the past.
MARIE L. McLAUGHLIN (Mrs. James McLaughlin).
McLaughlin, S. D., May 1, 1913.
THE FORGOTTEN EAR OF CORN
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 without me."
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 garnered 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 LITTLE MICE
Once upon a time a prairie mouse busied herself all fall storing
away a cache of beans. Every morning she was out early with her
empty cast-off snake skin, which she filled with ground beans and
dragged home with her teeth.
The little mouse had a cousin who was fond of dancing and talk, but
who did not like to work. She was not careful to get her cache of
beans and the season was already well gone before she thought to
bestir herself. When she came to realize her need,
she found she had no packing bag. So she went to her hardworking
cousin and said:
"Cousin, I have no beans stored for winter and the season is nearly
gone. But I have no snake skin to gather the beans in. Will you
lend me one?"
"But why have you no packing bag? Where were you in the moon when
the snakes cast off their skins?"
"I was here."
"What were you doing?"
"I was busy talking and dancing."
"And now you are punished," said the other. "It is always so with
lazy, careless people. But I will let you have the snake skin.
And now go, and by hard work and industry, try to recover your
THE PET RABBIT
A little girl owned a pet rabbit which she loved dearly. She
carried it on her back like a babe, made for it a little pair of
moccasins, and at night shared with it her own robe.
Now the little girl had a cousin who loved her very dearly and
wished to do her honor; so her cousin said to herself:
"I love my little cousin well and will ask her to let me carry her
pet rabbit around;" (for thus do Indian women when they wish to
honor a friend; they ask permission to carry about the friend's
She then went to the little girl and said:
"Cousin, let me carry your pet rabbit about on my back. Thus shall
I show you how I love you."
Her mother, too, said to her: "Oh no, do not let our little
grandchild go away from our tepee."
But the cousin answered: "Oh, do let me carry it. I do so want to
show my cousin honor." At last they let her go away with the pet
rabbit on her back.
When the little girl's cousin came home to her tepee, some rough
boys who were playing about began to make sport of her. To tease
the little girl they threw stones and sticks at the pet rabbit. At
last a stick struck the little rabbit upon the head and
When her pet was brought home dead, the little rabbit's adopted
mother wept bitterly. She cut off her hair for mourning and all
her little girl friends wailed with her. Her mother, too, mourned
"Alas!" they cried, "alas, for the little rabbit. He was always
kind and gentle. Now your child is dead and you will be lonesome."
The little girl's mother called in her little friends and made a
great mourning feast for the little rabbit. As he lay in the tepee
his adopted mother's little friends brought many precious things
and covered his body. At the feast were given away robes and
kettles and blankets and knives and great wealth in honor of the
little rabbit. Him they wrapped in a robe with his little
moccasins on and buried him in a high place upon a scaffold.
THE PET DONKEY
There was a chief's daughter once who had a great many relations so
that everybody knew she belonged to a great family.
When she grew up she married and there were born to her twin sons.
This caused great rejoicing in her father's camp, and all the
village women came to see the babes. She was very happy.
As the babes grew older, their grandmother made for them two saddle
bags and brought out a donkey.
"My two grandchildren," said the old lady, "shall ride as is
becoming to children having so many relations. Here is this
donkey. He is patient and surefooted. He shall carry the babes in
the saddle bags, one on either side of his back."
It happened one day that the chief's daughter and her husband were
making ready to go on a camping journey. The father, who was quite
proud of his children, brought out his finest pony, and put the
saddle bags on the pony's back.
"There," he said, "my sons shall ride on the pony, not on a donkey;
let the donkey carry the pots and kettles."
So his wife loaded the donkey with the household things. She tied
the tepee poles into two great bundles, one on either side of the
donkey's back; across them she put the travois net and threw into
it the pots and kettles and laid the skin tent across the donkey's
But no sooner done than the donkey began to rear and bray and kick.
He broke the tent poles and kicked the pots and kettles into bits
and tore the skin tent. The more he was beaten the more he kicked.
At last they told the grandmother. She laughed. "Did I not tell
you the donkey was for the children," she cried. "He knows the
babies are the chief's children. Think you he will be dishonored
with pots and kettles?" and she fetched the children and slung them
over the donkey's back, when he became at once quiet again.
The camping party left the village and went on their journey. But
the next day as they passed by a place overgrown with bushes, a
band of enemies rushed out, lashing their ponies and sounding their
war whoop. All was excitement. The men bent their bows and seized
their lances. After a long battle the enemy fled. But when the
camping party came together again--where were the donkey and the
two babes? No one knew. For a long time they searched, but in
vain. At last they turned to go back to the village, the father
mournful, the mother wailing. When they came to the grandmother's
tepee, there stood the good donkey with the two babes in the saddle
THE RABBIT AND THE ELK
The little rabbit lived with his old grandmother, who needed a new
dress. "I will go out and trap a deer or an elk for you," he said.
"Then you shall have a new dress."
When he went out hunting he laid down his bow in the path while he
looked at his snares. An elk coming by saw the bow.
"I will play a joke on the rabbit," said the elk to himself. "I
will make him think I have been caught in his bow string." He then
put one foot on the string and lay down as if dead.
By and by the rabbit returned. When he saw the elk he was filled
with joy and ran home crying: "Grandmother, I have trapped a fine
elk. You shall have a new dress from his skin. Throw the old one
in the fire!"
This the old grandmother did.
The elk now sprang to his feet laughing. "Ho, friend rabbit," he
called, "You thought to trap me; now I have mocked you." And he
ran away into the thicket.
The rabbit who had come back to skin the elk now ran home again.
"Grandmother, don't throw your dress in the fire," he cried. But
it was too late. The old dress was burned.
THE RABBIT AND THE GROUSE GIRLS
The rabbit once went out on the prairie in winter time. On the
side of a hill away from the wind he found a great company of girls
all with grey and speckled blankets over their backs. They were
the grouse girls and they were coasting down hill on a board. When
the rabbit saw them, he called out:
"Oh, maidens, that is not a good way to coast down hill. Let me
get you a fine skin with bangles on it that tinkle as you slide."
And away he ran to the tepee and brought a skin bag. It had red
stripes on it and bangles that tinkled. "Come and get inside," he
said to the grouse girls. "Oh, no, we are afraid," they answered.
"Don't be afraid, I can't hurt you. Come, one of you," said the
rabbit. Then as each hung back he added coaxingly: "If each is
afraid alone, come all together. I can't hurt you all."
And so he coaxed the whole flock into the bag. This done, the
rabbit closed the mouth of the bag, slung it over his back and came
home. "Grandmother," said he, as he came to the tepee, "here is a
bag full of game. Watch it while I go for willow sticks to make
But as soon as the rabbit had gone out of the tent, the grouse
girls began to cry out:
"Grandmother, let us out."
"Who are you?" asked the old woman.
"Your dear grandchildren," they answered.
"But how came you in the bag?" asked the old woman.
"Oh, our cousin was jesting with us. He coaxed us in the bag for
a joke. Please let us out."
"Certainly, dear grandchildren, I will let you out," said the old
woman as she untied the bag: and lo, the grouse flock with
achuck-a-chuck-achuck flew up, knocking over the old grandmother
and flew out of the square smoke opening of the winter lodge. The
old woman caught only one grouse as it flew up and held it,
grasping a leg with each hand.
When the rabbit came home with the spits she called out to him:
"Grandson, come quick. They got out but I have caught two."
When he saw what had happened he was quite angry, yet could not
keep from laughing.
"Grandmother, you have but one grouse," he cried, and it is a very
skinny one at that."
THE FAITHFUL LOVERS
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
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
"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
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
"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
run and jump on its top."
"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
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 the others. 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
"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 forebodings 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 may 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."
"No, let me rest."
"But you are my friend. I will not eat unless you share it with
"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
"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. Cannot you go to the river and drink your fill
from the stream?" asked his friend.
"Remember your promise."
"Yes, but I am weary. Go now and drink."
"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
"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 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 bar'd
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 smelling
"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. "Come back.
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
"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 ARTICHOKE AND THE MUSKRAT
On the shore of a lake stood an artichoke with its green leaves
waving in the sun. Very proud of itself it was, and well satisfied
with the world. In the lake below lived a muskrat in his tepee,
and in the evening as the sun set he would come out upon the shore
and wander over the bank. One evening he came near the place where
the artichoke stood.
"Ho, friend," he said, "you seem rather proud of yourself. Who are
you?" "I am the artichoke," answered the other, "and I have many
handsome cousins. But who are you?"
"I am the muskrat, and I, too, belong to a large family. I live in
the water. I don't stand all day in one place like a stone."
"If I stand in one place all day," retorted the artichoke, "at
least I don't swim around in stagnant water, and build my lodge in
"You are jealous of my fine fur," sneered the muskrat. "I may
build my lodge in the mud, but I always have a clean coat. But you
are half buried in the ground, and when men dig you up, you are
"And your fine coat always smells of musk," jeered the artichoke.
"That is true," said the muskrat. "But men think well of me,
nevertheless. They trap me for the fine sinew in my tail; and
handsome young women bite off my tail with their white teeth and
make it into thread."
"That's nothing," laughed the artichoke. "Handsome young warriors,
painted and splendid with feathers, dig me up, brush me off with
their shapely hands and eat me without even taking the trouble to
wash me off."
THE RABBIT AND THE BEAR WITH THE
The Rabbit and his grandmother were in dire straits, because the
rabbit was out of arrows. The fall hunt would soon be on and his
quiver was all but empty. Arrow sticks he could cut in plenty, but
he had nothing with which to make arrowheads.
"You must make some flint arrowheads," said his grandmother. "Then
you will be able to kill game."
"Where shall I get the flint?" asked the rabbit.
"From the old bear chief," said his old grandmother. For at that
time all the flint in the world was in the bear's body.
So the rabbit set out for the village of the Bears. It was winter
time and the lodges of the bears were set under the shelter of a
hill where the cold wind would not blow on them and where they had
shelter among the trees and bushes.
He came at one end of the village to a hut where lived an old
woman. He pushed open the door and entered. Everybody who came
for flint always stopped there because it was the first lodge on
the edge of the village. Strangers were therefore not unusual in
the old woman's hut, and she welcomed the rabbit. She gave him a
seat and at night he lay with his feet to the fire.
The next morning the rabbit went to the lodge of the bear chief.
They sat together awhile and smoked. At last the bear chief spoke.
"What do you want, my grandson?"
"I have come for some flint to make arrows," answered the rabbit.
The bear chief grunted, and laid aside his pipe. Leaning back he
pulled off his robe and, sure enough, one half of his body was
flesh and the other half hard flint.
"Bring a stone hammer and give it to our guest," he bade his wife.
Then as the rabbit took the hammer he said: "Do not strike too
"Grandfather, I shall be careful," said the rabbit. With a stroke
he struck off a little flake of flint from the bear's body.
"Ni-sko-ke-cha? So big?" he asked.
"Harder, grandson; strike off bigger pieces," said the bear.
The rabbit struck a little harder.
"Ni-sko-ke-cha? So big?" he asked.
The bear grew impatient. "No, no, strike off bigger pieces. I
can't be here all day. Tanka kaksa wo! Break off a big piece."
The rabbit struck again--hard! "Ni-sko-ke-cha?" he cried, as the
hammer fell. But even as he spoke the bear's body broke in two,
the flesh part fell away and only the flint part remained. Like a
flash the rabbit darted out of the hut.
There was a great outcry in the village. Openmouthed, all the
bears gave chase. But as he ran the rabbit cried: "Wa-hin-han-yo
(snow, snow) Ota-po, Ota-po--lots more, lots more," and a great
storm of snow swept down from the sky.
The rabbit, light of foot, bounded over the top of the snow. The
bears sunk in and floundered about helpless. Seeing this, the
rabbit turned back and killed them one by one with his club. That
is why we now have so few bears.
STORY OF THE LOST WIFE
A Dakota girl married a man who promised to treat her kindly, but
he did not keep his word. He was unreasonable, fault-finding, and
often beat her. Frantic with his cruelty, she ran away. The whole
village turned out to search for her, but no trace of the missing
wife was to be found.
Meanwhile, the fleeing woman had wandered about all that day and
the next night. The next day she met a man, who asked her who she
was. She did not know it, but he was not really a man, but the
chief of the wolves.
"Come with me," he said, and he led her to a large village. She
was amazed to see here many wolves--gray and black, timber wolves
and coyotes. It seemed as if all the wolves in the world were
The wolf chief led the young woman to a great tepee and invited her
in. He asked her what she ate for food.
"Buffalo meat," she answered.
He called two coyotes and bade them bring what the young woman
wanted. They bounded away and soon returned with the shoulder of
a fresh-killed buffalo calf.
"How do you prepare it for eating?" asked the wolf chief.
"By boiling," answered the young woman.
Again he called the two coyotes. Away they bounded and soon
brought into the tent a small bundle. In it were punk, flint and
steel--stolen, it may be, from some camp of men.
"How do you make the meat ready?" asked the wolf chief.
"I cut it into slices," answered the young woman.
The coyotes were called and in a short time fetched in a knife in
its sheath. The young woman cut up the calf's shoulder into slices
and ate it.
Thus she lived for a year, all the wolves being very kind to her.
At the end of that time the wolf chief said to her:
"Your people are going off on a buffalo hunt. Tomorrow at noon
they will be here. You must then go out and meet them or they will
fall on us and kill us."
The next day at about noon the young woman went to the top of a
neighboring knoll. Coming toward her were some young men riding on
their ponies. She stood up and held her hands so that they could
see her. They wondered who she was, and when they were close by
gazed at her closely.
"A year ago we lost a young woman; if you are she, where have you
been," they asked.
"I have been in the wolves' village. Do not harm them," she
"We will ride back and tell the people," they said. "Tomorrow
again at noon, we shall meet you."
The young woman went back to the wolf village, and the next day
went again to a neighboring knoll, though to a different one. Soon
she saw the camp coming in a long line over the prairie. First
were the warriors, then the women and tents.
The young woman's father and mother were overjoyed to see her. But
when they came near her the young woman fainted, for she could not
now bear the smell of human kind. When she came to herself she
"You must go on a buffalo hunt, my father and all the hunters.
Tomorrow you must come again, bringing with you the tongues and
choice pieces of the kill."
This he promised to do; and all the men of the camp mounted their
ponies and they had a great hunt. The next day they returned with
their ponies laden with the buffalo meat. The young woman bade
them pile the meat in a great heap between two hills which she
pointed out to them. There was so much meat that the tops of the
two hills were bridged level between by the meat pile. In the
center of the pile the young woman planted a pole with a red flag.
She then began to howl like a wolf, loudly.
In a moment the earth seemed covered with wolves. They fell
greedily on the meat pile and in a short time had eaten the last
The young woman then joined her own people.
Her husband wanted her to come and live with him again. For a long
time she refused. However, at last they became reconciled.
THE RACCOON AND THE CRAWFISH
Sharp and cunning is the raccoon, say the Indians, by whom he is
named Spotted Face.
A crawfish one evening wandered along a river bank, looking for
something dead to feast upon. A raccoon was also out looking for
something to eat. He spied the crawfish and formed a plan to catch
He lay down on the bank and feigned to be dead. By and by the
crawfish came near by. "Ho," he thought, "here is a feast indeed;
but is he really dead. I will go near and pinch him with my claws
and find out."
So he went near and pinched the raccoon on the nose and then on his
soft paws. The raccoon never moved. The crawfish then pinched him
on the ribs and tickled him so that the raccoon could hardly keep
from laughing. The crawfish at last left him. "The
raccoon is surely dead," he thought. And he hurried back to the
crawfish village and reported his find to the chief.
All the villagers were called to go down to the feast. The chief
bade the warriors and young men to paint their faces and dress in
their gayest for a dance.
So they marched in a long line--first the warriors, with their
weapons in hand, then the women with their babies and children--to
the place where the raccoon lay. They formed a great circle about
him and danced, singing:
"We shall have a great feast
"On the spotted-faced beast, with soft smooth paws:
"He is dead!
"He is dead!
"We shall dance!
"We shall have a good time;
"We shall feast on his flesh."
But as they danced, the raccoon suddenly sprang to his feet.
"Who is that you say you are going to eat? He has a spotted face,
has he? He has soft, smooth paws, has he? I'll break your ugly
backs. I'll break your rough bones. I'll crunch your ugly, rough
paws." And he rushed among the crawfish, killing them by
scores. The crawfish warriors fought bravely and the women ran
screaming, all to no purpose. They did not feast on the raccoon;
the raccoon feasted on them!
LEGEND OF STANDING ROCK
A Dakota had married an Arikara woman, and by her had one child.
By and by he took another wife. The first wife was jealous and
pouted. When time came for the village to break camp she refused
to move from her place on the tent floor. The tent was taken down
but she sat on the ground with her babe on her back The rest of the
camp with her husband went on.
At noon her husband halted the line. "Go back to your
sister-in-law," he said to his two brothers. "Tell her to come on
and we will await you here. But hasten, for I fear she may grow
desperate and kill herself."
The two rode off and arrived at their former camping place in the
evening. The woman still sat on the ground. The elder spoke:
"Sister-in-law, get up. We have come for you. The camp awaits
She did not answer, and he put out his hand and touched her head.
She had turned to stone!
The two brothers lashed their ponies and came back to camp. They
told their story, but were not believed. "The woman has killed
herself and my brothers will not tell me," said the husband.
However, the whole village broke camp and came back to the place
where they had left the woman. Sure enough, she sat there still,
a block of stone.
The Indians were greatly excited. They chose out a handsome pony,
made a new travois and placed the stone in the carrying net. Pony
and travois were both beautifully painted and decorated with
streamers and colors. The stone was thought "wakan" (holy),
and was given a place of honor in the center of the camp. Whenever
the camp moved the stone and travois were taken along. Thus the
stone woman was carried for years, and finally brought to Standing
Rock Agency, and now rests upon a brick pedestal in front of the
Agency office. From this stone Standing Rock Agency derives its
STORY OF THE PEACE PIPE
Two young men were out strolling one night talking of love affairs.
They passed around a hill and came to a little ravine or coulee.
Suddenly they saw coming up from the ravine a beautiful woman. She
was painted and her dress was of the very finest
"What a beautiful girl!" said one of the young men. "Already I
love her. I will steal her and make her my wife."
"No," said the other. "Don't harm her. She may be holy."
The young woman approached and held out a pipe which she first
offered to the sky, then to the earth and then advanced, holding it
out in her extended hands.
"I know what you young men have been saying; one of you is good;
the other is wicked," she said.
She laid down the pipe on the ground and at once became a buffalo
cow. The cow pawed the ground, stuck her tail straight out behind
her and then lifted the pipe from the ground again in her hoofs;
immediately she became a young woman again.
"I am come to give you this gift," she said. "It is the peace
pipe. Hereafter all treaties and ceremonies shall be performed
after smoking it. It shall bring peaceful thoughts into your
minds. You shall offer it to the Great Mystery and to mother
The two young men ran to the village and told what they had seen
and heard. All the village came out where the young woman was.
She repeated to them what she had already told the young men and
"When you set free the ghost (the spirit of deceased persons) you
must have a white buffalo cow skin."
She gave the pipe to the medicine men of the village, turned again
to a buffalo cow and fled away to the land of buffaloes.
A BASHFUL COURTSHIP
A young man lived with his grandmother. He was a good hunter and
wished to marry. He knew a girl who was a good moccasin maker, but
she belonged to a great family. He wondered how he could win
One day she passed the tent on her way to get water at the river.
His grandmother was at work in the tepee with a pair of old
worn-out sloppy moccasins. The young man sprang to his feet.
"Quick, grandmother--let me have those old sloppy moccasins you
have on your feet!" he cried.
"My old moccasins, what do you want of them?" cried the astonished
"Never mind! Quick! I can't stop to talk," answered the grandson
as he caught up the old moccasins the old lady had doffed, and put
them on. He threw a robe over his shoulders, slipped through the
door, and hastened to the watering place. The girl
had just arrived with her bucket.
"Let me fill your bucket for you," said the young man.
"Oh, no, I can do it."
"Oh, let me, I can go in the mud. You surely don't want to soil
your moccasins," and taking the bucket he slipped in the mud,
taking care to push his sloppy old moccasins out so the girl could
see them. She giggled outright.
"My, what old moccasins you have," she cried.
"Yes, I have nobody to make me a new pair," he answered.
"Why don't you get your grandmother to make you a new pair?"
"She's old and blind and can't make them any longer. That's why I
want you," he answered.
"Oh, you're fooling me. You aren't speaking the truth."
"Yes, I am. If you don't believe--come with me now!"
The girl looked down; so did the youth. At last he said softly:
"Well, which is it? Shall I take up your bucket, or will you go
And she answered, still more softly: "I guess I'll go with you!"
The girl's aunt came down to the river, wondering what kept her
niece so long. In the mud she found two pairs of moccasin tracks
close together; at the edge of the water stood an empty keg.
THE SIMPLETON'S WISDOM
There was a man and his wife who had one daughter. Mother and
daughter were deeply attached to one another, and when the latter
died the mother was disconsolate. She cut off her hair, cut gashes
in her cheeks and sat before the corpse with her robe drawn over
her head, mourning for her dead. Nor would she let them touch the
body to take it to a burying scaffold. She had a knife in her
hand, and if anyone offered to come near the body the mother would
"I am weary of life. I do not care to live. I will stab myself
with this knife and join my daughter in the land of spirits."
Her husband and relatives tried to get the knife from her, but
could not. They feared to use force lest she kill herself. They
came together to see what they could do.
"We must get the knife away from her," they said.
At last they called a boy, a kind of simpleton, yet with a good
deal of natural shrewdness. He was an orphan and very poor. His
moccasins were out at the sole and he was dressed in wei-zi (coarse
buffalo skin, smoked).
"Go to the tepee of the mourning mother," they told the simpleton,
"and in some way contrive to make her laugh and forget her grief.
Then try to get the knife away from her."
The boy went to the tent and sat down at the door as if waiting to
be given something. The corpse lay in the place of honor where the
dead girl had slept in life. The body was wrapped in a rich robe
and wrapped about with ropes. Friends had covered it with rich
offerings out of respect to the dead.
As the mother sat on the ground with her head covered she did not
at first see the boy, who sat silent. But when his reserve had
worn away a little he began at first lightly, then more heavily, to
drum on the floor with his hands. After a while he began to sing
a comic song. Louder and louder he sang until carried away with
his own singing he sprang up and began to dance, at the same time
gesturing and making all manner of contortions with his body, still
singing the comic song. As he approached the corpse he waved his
hands over it in blessing. The mother put her head out of the
blanket and when she saw the poor simpleton with his strange
grimaces trying to do honor to the corpse by his solemn waving, and
at the same time keeping up his comic song, she burst out laughing.
Then she reached over and handed her knife to the simpleton.
"Take this knife," she said. "You have taught me to forget my
grief. If while I mourn for the dead I can still be mirthful,
there is no reason for me to despair. I no longer care to die. I
will live for my husband."
The simpleton left the tepee and brought the knife to the
astonished husband and relatives.
"How did you get it? Did you force it away from her, or did you
steal it?" they said.
"She gave it to me. How could I force it from her or steal it when
she held it in her hand, blade uppermost? I sang and danced for
her and she burst out laughing. Then she gave it to me," he
When the old men of the village heard the orphan's story they were
very silent. It was a strange thing for a lad to dance in a tepee
where there was mourning. It was stranger that a mother should
laugh in a tepee before the corpse of her dead daughter. The old
men gathered at last in a council. They sat a long time without
saying anything, for they did not want to decide hastily. The pipe
was filled and passed many times. At last an old man spoke.
"We have a hard question. A mother has laughed before the corpse
of her daughter, and many think she has done foolishly, but I think
the woman did wisely. The lad was simple and of no training, and
we cannot expect him to know how to do as well as
one with good home and parents to teach him. Besides, he did the
best that he knew. He danced to make the mother forget her grief,
and he tried to honor the corpse by waving over it his hands."
"The mother did right to laugh, for when one does try to do us
good, even if what he does causes us discomfort, we should always
remember rather the motive than the deed. And besides, the
simpleton's dancing saved the woman's life, for she gave up her
knife. In this, too, she did well, for it is always better to live
for the living than to die for the dead."
A LITTLE BRAVE AND THE MEDICINE
A village of Indians moved out of winter camp and pitched their
tents in a circle on high land overlooking a lake. A little way
down the declivity was a grave. Choke cherries had grown up,
hiding the grave from view. But as the ground had sunk somewhat,
the grave was marked by a slight hollow.
One of the villagers going out to hunt took a short cut through the
choke cherry bushes. As he pushed them aside he saw the hollow
grave, but thought it was a washout made by the rains. But as he
essayed to step over it, to his great surprise he stumbled and
fell. Made curious by his mishap, he drew back and tried again;
but again he fell. When he came back to the village he told the
old men what had happened to him. They remembered then that a long
time before there had been buried there a medicine woman or
conjurer. Doubtless it was her medicine that made him stumble.
The story of the villager's adventure spread thru the camp and made
many curious to see the grave. Among others were six little boys
who were, however, rather timid, for they were in great awe of the
dead medicine woman. But they had a little playmate named Brave,
a mischievous little rogue, whose hair was always unkempt and
tossed about and who was never quiet for a moment.
"Let us ask Brave to go with us," they said; and they went in a
body to see him.
"All right," said Brave; "I will go with you. But I have something
to do first. You go on around the hill that way, and I will
hasten around this way, and meet you a little later near the
So the six little boys went on as bidden until they came to a place
near the grave. There they halted.
"Where is Brave?" they asked.
Now Brave, full of mischief, had thought to play a jest on his
little friends. As soon as they were well out of sight he had sped
around the hill to the shore of the lake and sticking his hands in
the mud had rubbed it over his face, plastered it in his hair, and
soiled his hands until he looked like a new risen corpse with the
flesh rotting from his bones. He then went and lay down in the
grave and awaited the boys.
When the six little boys came they were more timid than ever when
they did not find Brave; but they feared to go back to the village
without seeing the grave, for fear the old men would call them
So they slowly approached the grave and one of them timidly called
"Please, grandmother, we won't disturb your grave. We only want to
see where you lie. Don't be angry."
At once a thin quavering voice, like an old woman's, called out:
"Han, han, takoja, hechetuya, hechetuya! Yes, yes, that's right,
The boys were frightened out of their senses, believing the old
woman had come to life.
"Oh, grandmother," they gasped, "don't hurt us; please don't, we'll
Just then Brave raised his muddy face and hands up thru the choke
cherry bushes. With the oozy mud dripping from his features he
looked like some very witch just raised from the grave. The boys
screamed outright. One fainted. The rest ran yelling up the hill
to the village, where each broke at once for his mother's tepee.
As all the tents in a Dakota camping circle face the center, the
boys as they came tearing into camp were in plain view from the
tepees. Hearing the screaming, every woman in camp ran to her
tepee door to see what had happened. Just then little Brave, as
badly scared as the rest, came rushing in after them, his hair on
end and covered with mud and crying out, all forgetful of his
"It's me, it's me!"
The women yelped and bolted in terror from the village. Brave
dashed into his mother's tepee, scaring her out of her wits.
Dropping pots and kettles, she tumbled out of the tent to run
screaming with the rest. Nor would a single villager come near
poor little Brave until he had gone down to the lake and washed
THE BOUND CHILDREN
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 thru the ice. When she had washed away
all signs of mourning, she painted and decked herself and went to
the chief's tepee. When his son saw her, he loved her, and a feast
was made in honor of her wedding.
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 tepee of an old woman who lived at one end of
the village. The old woman's tumble down tepee was of bark and her
dress and clothing was 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 tepee, raised the door flap and went
in. There sat her mother with the chief's son at their wedding
The girl walked up to her mother and hurled the filth in her
"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 tent.
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 tepee 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 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 done
with it!" 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 tepees, in one of which were stored rows upon rows of
parfleche bags of dried meat.
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
"Brother, I do not care to marry," she answered. "I am now happy
"But you will be yet happier married," he answered, "and the young
stranger is of no mean family, as one can see by his dress and
"Very well, I will do as you wish," she said. So the stranger came
into the tepee and was the girl's husband.
One day as they were in their tent, a crow flew overhead, calling
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
"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 are starving."
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 tepee. The chief came
out and the crow called loudly:
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
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 bird's words meant.
"He means," said Unktomi, "that the two children whom you forsook
have tepees 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 tepees 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
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 SIGNS OF CORN
When corn is to be planted by the Indians, it is the work of the
women folk to see to the sorting and cleaning of the best seed. It
is also the women's work to see to the planting. (This was in olden
After the best seed has been selected, the planter measures the
corn, lays down a layer of hay, then a layer of corn. Over this
corn they sprinkle warm water and cover it with another layer of
hay, then bind hay about the bundle and hang it up in a spot
where the warm rays of the sun can strike it.
While the corn is hanging in the sun, the ground is being prepared
to receive it. Having finished the task of preparing the ground,
the woman takes down her seed corn which has by this time sprouted.
Then she proceeds to plant the corn.
Before she plants the first hill, she extends her hoe heavenwards
and asks the Great Spirit to bless her work, that she may have a
good yield. After her prayer she takes four kernels and plants one
at the north, one at the south, one at the east and one
at the west sides of the first hill. This is asking the Great
Spirit to give summer rain and sunshine to bring forth a good crop.
For different growths of the corn, the women have an interpretation
as to the character of the one who planted it.
1st. Where the corn grows in straight rows and the cob is full of
kernels to the end, this signifies that the planter of this corn is
of an exemplary character, and is very truthful and thoughtful.
2nd. If the rows on the ears of corn are irregular and broken, the
planter is considered careless and unthoughtful. Also disorderly
and slovenly about her house and person.
3rd. When an ear of corn bears a few scattering kernels with
spaces producing no corn, it is said that is a good sign that the
planter will live to a ripe old age. So old will they be that like
the corn, their teeth will be few and far between.
4th. When a stalk bears a great many nubbins, or small ears
growing around the large one, it is a sign that the planter is
from a large and respectable family.
After the corn is gathered, it is boiled into sweet corn and made
into hominy; parched and mixed with buffalo tallow and rolled into
round balls, and used at feasts, or carried by the warriors on the
warpath as food.
When there has been a good crop of corn, an ear is always tied at
the top of the medicine pole, of the sun dance, in thanks to the
Great Spirit for his goodness to them in sending a bountiful crop.
STORY OF THE RABBITS
The Rabbit nation were very much depressed in spirits on account of
being run over by all other nations. They, being very obedient to
their chief, obeyed all his orders to the letter. One of his
orders was, that upon the approach of any other nation that
they should follow the example of their chief and run up among the
rocks and down into their burrows, and not show themselves until
the strangers had passed.
This they always did. Even the chirp of a little cricket would
send them all scampering to their dens.
One day they held a great council, and after talking over
everything for some time, finally left it to their medicine man to
decide. The medicine man arose and said:
"My friends, we are of no use on this earth. There isn't a nation
on earth that fears us, and we are so timid that we cannot defend
ourselves, so the best thing for us to do is to rid the earth of
our nation, by all going over to the big lake and drowning
This they decided to do; so going to the lake they were about to
jump in, when they heard a splashing in the water. Looking, they
saw a lot of frogs jumping into the lake.
"We will not drown ourselves," said the medicine man, "we have
found a nation who are afraid of us. It is the frog nation." Had
it not been for the frogs we would have had no rabbits, as the
whole nation would have drowned themselves and the rabbit race
would have been extinct.
HOW THE RABBIT LOST HIS TAIL
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 an animal, bird, fish, cloud, thunder and
lightning, or in fact anything that 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 scrapes.
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
"I had hiccoughs 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 thru 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 black cloud that was approaching very swiftly,
Rabbit said: "That is my brother; he can destroy you, your house,
and pine tree in one breath."
"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 thru 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 he 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 this
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 dinner.
"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
"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
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
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 brother."
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.
UNKTOMI AND THE ARROWHEADS
There were once upon a time two young men who were very great
friends, and were constantly together. One was a very thoughtful
young man, the other very impulsive, who never stopped to think
before he committed an act.
One day these two friends were walking along, telling each other of
their experiences in love making. They ascended a high hill, and
on reaching the top, heard a ticking noise as if small stones or
pebbles were being struck together.
Looking around they discovered a large spider sitting in the midst
of a great many flint arrowheads. The spider was busily engaged
making the flint rocks into arrow heads. They looked at the
spider, but he never moved, but continued hammering away on a piece
of flint which he had nearly completed into another arrowhead.
"Let's hit him," said the thoughtless one. "No," said the other,
"he is not harming any one; in fact, he is doing a great good, as
he is making the flint arrowheads which we use to point our
"Oh, you are afraid," said the first young man. "He can't harm
you. just watch me hit him." So saying, he picked up an arrowhead
and throwing it at "Unktomi," hit him on the side. As Unktomi
rolled over on his side, got up and stood looking at them, the
young man laughed and said: "Well, let us be going, as your
grandfather, "Unktomi," doesn't seem to like our company." They
started down the hill, when suddenly the one who had hit Unktomi
took a severe fit of coughing. He coughed and coughed, and finally
small particles of blood came from his mouth. The blood kept
coming thicker and in great gushes. Finally it came so thick and
fast that the man could not get his breath and fell upon the ground
The thoughtful young man, seeing that his friend was no more,
hurried to the village and reported what had happened. The
relatives and friends hurried to the hill, and sure enough, there
lay the thoughtless young man still and cold in death. They held
a council and sent for the chief of the Unktomi tribe. When he
heard what had happened, he told the council that he could do
nothing to his Unktomi, as it had only defended itself.
Said he: "My friends, seeing that your tribe was running short of
arrowheads, I set a great many of my tribe to work making flint
arrowheads for you. When my men are thus engaged they do not wish
to be disturbed, and your young man not only disturbed my man, but
grossly insulted him by striking him with one of the arrowheads
which he had worked so hard to make. My man could not sit and take
this insult, so as the young man walked away the Unktomi shot him
with a very tiny arrowhead. This produced a hemorrhage, which
caused his death. So now, my friends, if you will fill and pass
the peace pipe, we will part good friends and my tribe shall always
furnish you with plenty of flint arrowheads." So saying, Unktomi
Tanka finished his peace smoke and returned to his tribe.
Ever after that, when the Indians heard a ticking in the grass,
they would go out of their way to get around the sound, saying,
Unktomi is making arrowheads; we must not disturb him.
Thus it was that Unktomi Tanka (Big Spider) had the respect of this
tribe, and was never after disturbed in his work of making
THE BEAR AND THE RABBIT HUNT
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 good advantage. 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 meat."
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 home. 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 Rabbit's door.
"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
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
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. Events
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
"Who is this, who speaks so insultingly to you, father?" asked the
"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
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