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Smokyriversongs' Look At Indian Life And The Lore
Chippewa - Haida













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Chippewa Indian Lore:

 

 

Great Serpent And The Great Flood

From Maine and Nova Scotia to the Rocky Mountains, Indians told stories about the Great Serpent. More than a century ago the serpent was considered to be "a genuine spirit of evil." Some version of the story of the Great Flood of long ago, as recounted here, is told around the world.

Nanabozho (Nuna-bozo, accented on bozo) was the hero of many stories told by the Chippewa Indians. At one time they lived on the shores of Lake Superior, in what are now the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin and the province of Ontario.

One day when Nanabozho returned to his lodge after a long journey, he missed his young cousin who lived with him. He called the cousin's name but heard no answer. Looking around on the sand for tracks, Nanabozho was startled by the trail of the Great Serpent. He then knew that his cousin had been seized by his enemy.

Nanabozho picked up his bow and arrows and followed the track of the serpent. He passed the great river, climbed mountains, and crossed over valleys until he came to the shores of a deep and gloomy lake. It is now called Manitou Lake, Spirit Lake, and also the Lake of Devils. The trail of the Great Serpent led to the edge of the water.

Nanabozho could see, at the bottom of the lake, the house of the Great Serpent. It was filled with evil spirits, who were his servants and his companions. Their forms were monstrous and terrible. Most of them, like their master, resembled spirits. In the center of this horrible group was the Great Serpent himself, coiling his terrifying length around the cousin of Nanabozho.

The head of the Serpent was red as blood. His fierce eyes glowed like fire. His entire body was armed with hard and glistening scales of every color and shade.

Looking down on these twisting spirits of evil, Nanabozho made up his mind that he would get revenge on them for the death of his cousin.

He said to the clouds, "Disappear!"

And the clouds went out of sight.

"Winds, be still at once!" And the winds became still.

When the air over the lake of evil spirits had become stagnant, Nanabozho said to the sun, "Shine over the lake with all the fierceness you can. Make the water boil."

In these ways, thought Nanabozho, he would force the Great Serpent to seek the cool shade of the trees growing on the shores of the lake. There he would seize the enemy and get revenge.

After giving his orders, Nanabozho took his bow and arrows and placed himself near the spot where he thought the serpents would come to enjoy the shade. Then he changed himself into the broken stump of a withered tree.

The winds became still, the air stagnant, and the sun shot hot rays from a cloudless sky. In time, the water of the lake became troubled, and bubbles rose to the surface. The rays of the sun had penetrated to the home of the serpents. As the water bubbled and foamed, a serpent lifted his head above the center of the lake and gazed around the shores. Soon another serpent came to the surface. Both listened for the footsteps of Nanabozho, but they heard him nowhere.

"Nanabozho is sleeping," they said to one another.

And then they plunged beneath the waters, which seemed to hiss as they closed over the evil spirits.

Not long after, the lake became more troubled. Its water boiled from its very depths, and the hot waves dashed wildly against the rocks on its banks. Soon the Great Serpent came slowly to the surface of the water and moved toward the shore. His blood-red crest glowed. The reflection from his scales was blinding--as blinding as the glitter of a sleet-covered forest beneath the winter sun. He was followed by all the evil spirits. So great was their number that they soon covered the shores of the lake.

When they saw the broken stump of the withered tree, they suspected that it might be one of the disguises of Nanabozho. They knew his cunning. One of the serpents approached the stump, wound his tail around it, and tried to drag it down into the lake. Nanabozho could hardly keep from crying aloud, for the tail of the monster prickled his sides. But he stood firm and was silent.

The evil spirits moved on. The Great Serpent glided into the forest and wound his many coils around the trees. His companions also found shade--all but one. One remained near the shore to listen for the footsteps of Nanabozho.

From the stump, Nanabozho watched until all the serpents were asleep and the guard was intently looking in another direction. Then he silently drew an arrow from his quiver, placed it in his bow, and aimed it at the heart of the Great Serpent. It reached its mark. With a howl that shook the mountains and startled the wild beasts in their caves, the monster awoke. Followed by its terrified companions, which also were howling with rage and terror, the Great Serpent plunged into the water.

At the bottom of the lake there still lay the body of Nanabozho's cousin. In their fury the serpents tore it into a thousand pieces. His shredded lungs rose to the surface and covered the lake with whiteness.

The Great Serpent soon knew that he would die from his wound, but he and his companions were determined to destroy Nanabozho. They caused the water of the lake to swell upward and to pound against the shore with the sound of many thunders. Madly the flood rolled over the land, over the tracks of Nanabozho, carrying with it rocks and trees. High on the crest of the highest wave floated the wounded Great Serpent. His eyes glared around him, and his hot breath mingled with the hot breath of his many companions.

Nanabozho, fleeing before the angry waters, thought of his Indian children. He ran through their villages, shouting, "Run to the mountaintops! The Great Serpent is angry and is flooding the earth! Run! Run!"

The Indians caught up their children and found safety on the mountains. Nanabozho continued his flight along the base of the western hills and then up a high mountain beyond Lake Superior, far to the north. There he found many men and animals that had escaped from the flood that was already covering the valleys and plains and even the highest hills. Still the waters continued to rise. Soon all the mountains were under the flood, except the high one on which stood Nanabozho.

There he gathered together timber and made a raft. Upon it the men and women and animals with him placed themselves. Almost immediately the mountaintop disappeared from their view, and they floated along on the face of the waters. For many days they floated. At long last, the flood began to subside. Soon the people on the raft saw the trees on the tops of the mountains. Then they saw the mountains and hills, then the plains and the valleys.

When the water disappeared from the land, the people who survived learned that the Great Serpent was dead and that his companions had returned to the bottom of the lake of spirits. There they remain to this day. For fear of Nanabozho, they have never dared to come forth again.

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"The Two Jeebi-ug"

There lived a hunter in the North who had a wife and one child. His lodge stood far off in the forest, several days' journey from any other. He spent his days in hunting and his evening in relating to his wife the incidents that had befallen him. As game was very abundant he found no difficulty in killing as much as they wanted. Just in all his acts, he lived a peaceful and happy life.

One evening during the winter season, it chanced that he remained out later than usual, and his wife began to feel uneasy, for fear some accident had befallen him. It was already dark. She listened attentively and at last heard the sound of approaching footsteps. Not doubting it was her husband, she went to the door and beheld two strange females. She bade them to enter, and invited them to remain.

She observed that they were total strangers in the country. There was something so peculiar in their looks, air, and manner that she was uneasy in their company. They would not come near the fire; they sat in a remote part of the lodge, were shy and taciturn, and drew their garments around them in such a manner as nearly to hide their faces. So far as she could judge, they were pale, hollow-eyed, and long-visaged, very thin and emaciated. There was but little light in the lodge, as the fire was low, and served by it's fitful flashes rather to increase than dispel their fears. "Merciful spirit!" cried a voice from the opposite part of the lodge, "there are two corpses clothed with garments." The hunter's wife turned around, but seeing nobody, she concluded the sounds were but gusts of wind. she trembled, and was ready to sink to the earth.

Her husband at this moment entered and dispelled her fears. He threw down the carcass of a large fat deer. "Behold what a fine and fat animal," cried the mysterious females, and they immediately ran and pulled off pieces of the whitest fat, which they ate with greediness. The hunter and his wife looked on with astonishment, but remained silent. They supposed their guests might have been famished. Next day, however, the same unusual conduct was repeated. The strange females tore off the fat and devoured it with eagerness. The third day the hunter thought he would anticipate their wants by typing up a portion of the fattest pieces for them, which he placed on the top of his load. They accepted it, but still appeared dissatisfied, and went to the wife's portion and tore off more. The man and his wife felt surprised at such rude and unaccountable conduct, but they remained silent, for they respected their guests, and had observed that they had been attended with marked good luck during the residence of these mysterious visitors.

In other respects the deportment of the females was strictly unexceptionable. They were modest, distant, and silent. They never uttered a word during the day. At night they would occupy themselves in procuring wood, which they carried to the lodge, and then, returning the implements exactly to the places in which they had found them, resume their places without speaking. They were never known to stay out until daylight. They never laughed or jested.

The winter had nearly passed away, without anything uncommon happening, when, one evening, the hunter stayed out very late. The moment he entered and laid down his day's hunt as usual before his wife, the two females began to tear off the fat, in so unceremonious a way that her anger was excited. She constrained herself, however, in a measure, but did not conceal her feelings, although she said but little. The guests observed the excited state of her mind, and became unusually reserved and uneasy. The good hunter saw the change, and carefully inquired into the cause, but his wife denied having used any hard words. They retired to their couches, and he tried to compose himself to sleep, but could not, for the sobs and the sighs of the two females were incessant. He arose on his couch and addressed them as follows:

"Tell me," said he, "What is it that gives you pain of mind, and causes you to utter those sighs. Has my wife given you offense, or trespassed on the rights of hospitality?"

They replied in the negative. "We have been treated by you with kindness and affection. It is not for any slight we have received that we weep. Our mission is not to you only. We come from the land of the dead to test mankind, and to try the sincerity of the living. Often we have heard the bereaved by death say that if the dead could be restored, they would devote their lives to make them happy. We have been moved by the bitter lamentations which have reached the place of the dead and have come to make proof of the sincerity of those who have lost friends. Three moons were alloted us by the Master of Life to make the trial. More than half of the time has been successfully passed when the angry feeling of your wife indicated the irksomeness you felt at our presence, and has made us resolve on our departure."

They continued to talk to the hunter and his wife, gave them instructions as to a future life, and pronounced a blessing upon them.

"There is one point," they added, "of which we wish to speak. You have thought our conduct very strange in rudely possessing ourselves of the choicest parts of your hunt. That was the point of the trial selected to put you to. It is the wife's peculiar privilege. For another to usurp it, we knew to be the severest trial of her, and consequently of your temper and feelings. We know your manners and customs, but we came to prove you, not by a compliance with them, but by a violation of them. Pardon us. We are the agents of him who sent us. Peace to your dwelling, adieu!"

When they ceased, total darkness filled the lodge. No objects could be seen. The inmates heard the door open and shut, but they never saw more of two jeebi-ug.

The hunter found the success which they had promised. He became celebrated in the chase, and never wanted for anything. He had many children, all of who grew up to manhood; and health, peace and long life were the rewards of his hospitality.

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Father Of Indian Corn

In the long, long ago, a poor Ojibwa Indian lived with his wife and children in a remote part of the present state of Wisconsin. Because he was such a poor hunter, he was not very expert in providing food and supplies for his family.

His children were too young to give him much help. But he was a good man with a kind and contented disposition. He always was thankful to Chief of the Sky Spirits for everything he received to share with his family.

His good disposition was inherited by his eldest son, who had just reached the age when he wanted to pursue his Guardian Spirit Quest. Each young Indian boy looked forward to the time of finding the secret Spirit that would be his guide through his life. Each boy sought to learn his spirit name and what special power would be given him by his Guardian Spirit.

Eldest son had been obedient since early childhood. He seemed pensive, thoughtful of others, mild in manner, and always a joy to his family and to his tribe. At the first indication of spring, tradition told him to build a hut somewhere in an isolated place. There, he would not be disturbed during his dream quest. He prepared his hut and himself and went immediately to begin his fast for seven days.

For the first few days, he amused himself walking in the woods and over the mountain trails. He examined trees, plants, and flowers. This kind of physical effort in the outdoors prepared him for a night of sound sleep. His observations of the day filled his mind with pleasant ideas and dreams.

More and more he desired to know how the trees, plants, flowers, and berries grew. Seemingly they grew wild without much help from the Indians. He wondered why some species were good to eat, while others contained poisonous juices. These thoughts came back to him many times as he retreated to his lodge at night. He secretly wished for a dream that would reveal what he could do to benefit his family and his tribe.

"I believe the Chief of Sky Spirits guides all things and it is to him I owe all things," he thought to himself. "I wonder if Chief Sky Spirit can make it easier for all Indians to acquire enough food without hunting animals every day to eat."

"I must try to find a way in my dreams," he pondered. He stayed on his bed the third day of fasting, because he felt weak and faint. Sometimes he thought that he was going to die. He dreamed that he saw a strong, handsome young man coming down from the sky, advancing toward him. He was richly dressed in green and yellow colors. He wore a plume of waving feathers on his head. His every movement was graceful.

"I have been sent to you," said the sky-visitor. "The Sky Chief who made all things in the sky and upon the earth intends for me to be your Guardian Spirit and I have come to test you.

"Sky Chief has observed all that you have done to prepare yourself for your Quest. He understands the kind and worthy secret wish of your heart. He knows that you desire a way to benefit your family and your tribe. He is pleased that you do not seek strength to make war. I have come to show you how to obtain your greatest wish. First, your spirit name shall be Wunzh."

The stranger then told Wunzh to arise and wrestle with him. This was the only way for him to achieve his sacred wish. As weak as he was from fasting, Wunzh wondered how he could ever wrestle the stranger.

He rose to the challenge--determined in his heart to die in the effort if he must. The two wrestled. After some time when Wunzh felt nearly exhausted, the Sky Stranger said, "It is enough for today. I will come in tomorrow to test you some more." Smiling, the visitor ascended in the same direction from which he came.

Next day at the same time, the stranger appeared. Again the two wrestled. While Wunzh felt weaker than the day before, he set his mind and heart to his task. His courage seemed to increase, however, in reverse proportion to his waning physical strength. The stranger stopped just in time before Wunzh dropped to the ground.

"Tomorrow will be your last chance. I urge you to be strong, my friend, as this is the only way for you to achieve your heart's sacred wish," said the sky-visitor.

Wunzh took to his bed with his last ounce of energy. He prayed to the Sky Chief for wisdom and enough strength to endure to the end of his Quest.

The third time they wrestled, Wunzh was so weak that his arms and legs felt like rubber. But his inner determination drove him forward with the kind of endurance necessary to win. The same length of time passed as in the first two wrestling bouts. Suddenly the stranger stopped and declared himself conquered by Wunzh!

Then the sky-visitor entered the lodge for the first time. He sat down beside Wunzh to instruct him in the way he should now proceed to achieve his secret wish.

"Great Sky Chief has granted your desire. You have wrestled manfully. Tomorrow will be your seventh day of fasting. Your father will come to see you and bring you food. As it is the last day of your fast, you will be able to succeed.

"Now I will tell you what you must do to achieve your final victory. Tomorrow we will wrestle once more. When you have prevailed over me for the last time, then throw me down and strip off my clothes. You must clean the earth of roots and weeds and make the ground soft. Then bury me in that very spot, covering me with my yellow and green clothes and then with earth.

"When you have done this, leave my body in the earth. Do not disturb it. Come occasionally to see if I have come to life. Be careful to see that no grass or weeds cover my grave. Once a month, cover me with fresh earth. If you follow what I have told you, you will succeed in your Guardian Spirit Quest. You will help your family and all the Indians by teaching them what I have now taught you," the Sky Stranger concluded as they shook hands and the visitor left.

On the seventh morning, Wunzh's father came with some food.

"My son, how do you feel? You have fasted long enough. It is seven days since you have eaten food. You must not sacrifice your life. The Great Spirit does not require that of you."

"My father, thank you for coming and for the food. Let me stay here alone until the sun goes down. I have my own special reasons."

"Very well. I shall wait for you at home until the hour of the setting sun," replied the father as he departed.

The Sky Stranger returned at the same hour as before. The final wrestling match began. Wunzh had not eaten the food his father brought. But already he felt a new inner power that had somehow been given to him. Was it Spirit Power from his Guardian Spirit?

Wunzh grasped his opponent with supernatural strength and threw him to the ground. Wunzh removed the beautiful clothes and the plume. Then he discovered his friend was dead.

He remembered the instructions in every detail and buried his Guardian Spirit on the very spot where he had fallen. Wunzh followed every direction minutely, believing his friend would come to life again,

Wunzh returned to his father's lodge at sundown. He ate sparingly of the meal his mother prepared for him. Never for a moment could he forget the grave of his friend. Throughout the spring and into summer he visited the grave regularly. He carefully kept the area clean of grass and weeds. He carefully kept the ground soft and pliable. Soon he saw the tops of green plumes emerging through the earth. He noticed that the more care he gave the plants, the faster the green plumes seemed to grow.

Wunzh concealed his activity from his father. Days and weeks passed. Summer was drawing to a close. Then one day, Wunzh invited his father to follow him to the site of his Quest. He showed his father the graceful-looking plants growing there. They were topped with yellow silken hair and waving green plumes. Gold and green clusters of fruit adorned each side of the stalks.

"Father, these plants are from my dream friend," explained Wunzh. "He is my Guardian Spirit, a friend to all mankind, named Mon-daw-min, meaning 'corn for all Indians.' This is the answer to my Quest, my secret heart's wish. No longer will we need to hunt animals every day for our food. As long as we take care of our corn gift, the earth will give us good food for our living."

Wunzh pulled off the first ear of corn and give it to his father.

"See, my father. This corn is what I fasted for. The Chief of Sky Spirits has granted my Quest. He has sent us this wonderful new food of corn. From now on our people need not depend entirely upon hunting and fishing to survive."

Wunzh talked with his father, giving him all of the instructions he had received from his Guardian Spirit. He showed his father how the corn husks should be pulled off the stalks, and how the first seed must be saved for future plantings. He explained how the ears of corn should be held before the fire only long enough for the outer leaves to turn brown, so that the inside kernels remained sweet and juicy.

The entire family gathered for Wunzh's feast of corn. The father led a prayer of thanksgiving for the bountiful and good gift from the Chief of Sky Spirits. Wunzh felt happy that his Guardian Spirit Quest was successfully completed.

This is how Wunzh became known as the father of Indian corn by the Chippewa and Ojibwa Indian tribes.

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Forsaken Brother

One summer evening, scarcely an hour before sunset, the father of a family lay in his lodge, dying. Weeping beside him were his wife and three children. Two of them were almost grown up; the youngest was but a small child. These were the only human beings near the dying man, for the lodge stood on a little green mound away from all others of the tribe.

A breeze from the lake gave the sick man a brief return of strength. He raised himself a little and addressed his family.

"I know that I will leave you soon. Your mother, my partner of many years, will not stay long behind. She will soon join me in the pleasant land of spirits. But, O my children, my poor children! You have just begun life. All unkindness and other wickedness are still before you.

"I have contented myself with the company of your mother and yourselves for many years, in order to keep you from evil example. I will die content, my children, if you will promise me to love each other. Promise me that on no account will you forsake your youngest brother. I leave him in your charge. Love him and hold him dear."

The effort to speak exhausted the sick man. But taking a hand of each of his older children, he continued his plea. "My daughter, never forsake your little brother! My son, never forsake your little brother!"

"Never, never!" they both exclaimed.

"Never, never!" repeated the father. And then he died, happily sure that his command would be obeyed.

Time wore heavily away. Five long moons passed, and when the sixth moon was nearly full, the mother also died. In her last moments she reminded the two older children of their promise to their father. Willingly they renewed their promise to take care of their little brother. They were still free from any selfishness.

The winter passed away, and spring came. The girl, the oldest, directed her brothers. She seemed to feel an especially tender and sisterly affection for the youngest, who was sickly and delicate. The older boy, however, already showed signs of selfishness. One day he spoke sharply to his sister.

"My sister, are we always to live as if there were no other human beings in the world? Must I never associate with other men? I am going to visit the villages of my tribe. I have made up my mind, and you cannot prevent me."

"My brother," replied his sister, "I do not say no to what you wish. We were not forbidden to associate with others, but we were commanded never to forsake each other. If we separate to follow our own selfish desires, will we not be compelled to forsake our young brother? Both of us have promised to take care of him."

Making no reply, the young man picked up his bow and arrows, left the wigwam, and returned no more.

For many moons the girl took kindly care of her little brother. At last however, she too began to weary of their solitude and wished to escape from her duty. Her strength and her ability to provide food and clothing had increased through the years, but so had her desire for company. Her solitude troubled her more and more, as the years went slowly by. At last, thinking only of herself, she decided to forsake her little brother, as the older brother had already done.

One day, she placed in the lodge all the food she had gathered. After bringing a pile of wood to the door, she said to her young brother, "Do not stray far from the lodge while I am gone. I am going to look for our brother. I shall soon be back."

Then taking her bundle, she set off for the villages. She found a pleasant one on the shore of a lake. Soon she became so much occupied with the pleasures of her new life that her affection for her brother gradually left her heart. In time, she was married. For a long time, she did not even think of the sickly little brother she had left in the woods.

In the meantime the older brother had settled in a village on the same lake, not far from the graves of their parents and the solitary home of the little brother.

As soon as the little fellow had eaten all the food left by his sister, he had to pick berries and dig roots. Winter came on, and the poor child was exposed to its cold winds. Snow covered the earth. Forced to leave the lodge in search of food, he strayed far without shelter. Sometimes he passed the night in the crotch of an old tree and ate the fragments left by wolves.

Soon he had to depend for his food entirely on what the wolves did not eat. He became so fearless that he would sit close to them while they devoured the animals they had killed. His condition aroused the pity of the animals, and they always left something for him. Thus he lived on the kindness of the wolves until spring came. As soon as the lake was free from ice, he followed his new friends and companions to the shore.

Now it happened that his brother was fishing in his canoe, far out on the same lake, when he thought he heard the cry of a child. "How can any child live on this bleak shore?" he said to himself. He listened again, and he thought he heard the cry repeated. Paddling toward the shore as quickly as possible, he saw and recognized his brother. The young one was singing,

My brother, my brother! I am now turning into a wolf. I am turning into a wolf!

At the end of his song, he howled like a wolf. His brother, approaching, was shocked to find him half a wolf and half a human being. Leaping to the shore, the older brother tried to catch him in his arms. Soothingly he said, "My brother, my brother, come to me!"

But the boy fled, still singing as he ran, "I am turning into a wolf! I am turning into a wolf!" And at the end of his song he howled a terrifying howl.

Conscience-stricken, feeling his love return to his heart, his brother called to him, "My brother, O my brother! Come back to me!"

But the nearer he came to the child, the more rapidly the change to a wolf took place. Still the younger brother sang his song, and still he howled. Sometimes he called on his brother, and sometimes he called on his sister. When the change was complete, he ran toward the wood. He knew that he was a wolf. "I am a wolf! I am a wolf!" he cried, as he bounded out of sight.

The older brother, all the rest of his life, felt a gnawing sense of guilt. And the sister, when she heard what had happened to her little brother, remembered with grief the promise she had solemnly made to their father. She wept many tears and never ceased to mourn until her death.

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The Legend Of The Big Bird

Dene Suline/Soline (Chippewa) Indians were known caribou eaters as early as 1600, coming down from northern Canada as far south as Lake Superior and Minnesota. They spread into numerous tribes, separated mainly by physical boundaries, such as lakes, rivers, and mountains.

Their distinctive language of the Athapascan family is heard far and wide between the West and East Coasts, and even southward among the Apaches and Navaho. Dene Suline/Soline (Chippewa) are an extremely imaginative people, and nature is interpreted by them in a pleasing and poetic manner. For instance, the Dene Suline/Soline (Chippewa) might describe two trees, as "two trees growing side by side, so neither will tire of living alone."

Big Bird was a widow of the tribe's most famous Chief, Peace River. She lived with her son and beautiful daughter on the bank of a large stream. Her great ambition seemed to be to secure a rich husband for her daughter, suitable to her birth position.

So she asked her son to go to the riverbank and watch unceasingly to see if he could discover a stranger passing through suitable to be her son-in-law. One day the boy came running home to his mother with a beaming face and reported, "There is somebody passing by whom I would like to have for a brother-in-law."

Big Bird seemed delighted with the news, and took an armload of bark and went down to the river to meet the expected bridegroom. On her way, she placed the bark on the path for him to walk upon. She saw how magnificently dressed he was in a white skin costume covered with shell-beads. At their camp, she and her daughter had prepared a meal of unusual splendor and set it before their handsome guest.

Now it happened there was an old dog in the camp, which the young man objected to, and he would not eat until the dog was removed. Big Bird, wishing to show her guest every courtesy, complied with his request, took the dog out, and had him killed and left in the bush. The invited guest then enjoyed his supper, and they all went to sleep.

Next morning when Big Bird arose to make a fire, no wood was in the tepee. She went out to fetch some, and became startled to see the dog lying with his eyes removed, with his flesh pecked all over, and with the footprints of a three-toed animal all around the dog.

When she returned, she asked everyone to take off their shoes. they all did so, except the stranger, who said he never removed his shoes. However, Big Bird kept insisting, telling him she had a beautiful pair of new moccasins for him that would match his handsome costume. At last, she appealed to his vanity and he consented.

While quickly removing his shoes he said, "Kinno, kinno," meaning "Look, look!" but just as quickly put them on again. The boy saw his feet and called out, "He has three toes!" The stranger denied this statement and said, "I did it so quickly that you just imagined I have only three toes. You are mistaken."

After breakfast, he told his new wife that he wanted to go for his clothes, which were some distance upstream at his camp. He wished for her to accompany him. She thought her husband's conduct rather strange and not according to their tradition. At first she objected, but when he told of the many gew-gaws he wished to show her, she decided to go with him.

They got into their canoe and started off, the man sitting in the bow and the woman in the stem. In a short time, rain began to fall heavily. She noticed the rain washing off the shining white stuff from her husband's back and black feathers began to appear!

"Oh, I have married a crow!" she thought to herself. When he was not looking, she tied his long tail to the crossbar of the canoe. He turned and asked, "What are you doing?" "Your coat is so fine, I'm working with the beads to lay them straight." "I see I have married an industrious wife," he said as he resumed his paddling.

She then wondered how she could escape. So she said, "This point we are passing is famous for wild duck eggs. I'd like to go ashore and get us some for our supper." He consented, but as soon as she was out of the canoe, she ran up the bank and disappeared into the forest.

The crow tried to get out quickly to follow her, but because his tail was tied to the canoe, it was impossible. So he had to content himself with calling after her, "Caw! Caw! Once again I have tricked your people." He leisurely proceeded to untie his tail, and in his original black crow feathers flew away in search of another mischievous episode.

Big Bird welcomed her daughter home, grateful to be rid of the three-toed stranger. "We can all be more selective in the future when it comes to choosing in-laws," she advised her two younger children.

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Choctaw Indian Lore:

 

Grandmother Spider Steals the Fire

 

A story of the Choctaw People of Tennessee and Mississippi

The Choctaw People say that when the People first came up out of the ground, People were encased in cocoons, their eyes closed, their limbs folded tightly to their bodies. And this was true of all People, the Bird People, the Animal People, the Insect People, and the Human People. The Great Spirit took pity on them and sent down someone to unfold their limbs, dry them off, and open their eyes. But the opened eyes saw nothing, because the world was dark, no sun, no moon, not even any stars. All the People moved around by touch, and if they found something that didn't eat them first, they ate it raw, for they had no fire to cook it.

All the People met in a great powwow, with the Animal and Bird People taking the lead, and the Human People hanging back. The Animal and Bird People decided that lief was not good, but cold and miserable. A solution must be found! Someone spoke from the dark, "I have heard that the people in the East have fire." This caused a stir of wonder, "What could fire be?" There was a general discussion, and it was decided that if, as rumor had it, fire was warm and gave light, they should have it too. Another voice said, "But the people of the East are too greedy to share with us," So it was decided that the Bird and Animal People should steal what they needed, the fire!

But, who should have the honor? Grandmother Spider volunteered, "I can do it! Let me try!" But at the same time, Opossum began to speak. "I, Opossum, am a great chief of the animals. I will go to the East and since I am a great hunter, I will take the fire and hide it in the bushy hair on my tail." It was well know that Opossum had the most fur on his tail of all the animals, so he was selected.

When Opossum came to the East, he soon found the beautiful, red fire, jealously guarded by the people of the East. But Opossum got closer and closer until he picked up a small piece of burning wood, and stuck it in the hair of his tail, which promptly began to smoke, then flame. The people of the East said, "Look, that Opossum has stolen our fire!" They took it and put it back where it came from and drove Opossum away. Poor Opossum! Every bit of hair had burned from his tail, and to this day, possums have no hair at all on their tails.

Once again, the powwow had to find a volunteer chief. Grandmother Spider again said, "Let em go! I can do it!" But this time a bird was elected, Buzzard. Buzzard was very proud. "I can succeed where Opossum has failed. I will fly to the East on my great wings, then hide the stolen fire in the beautiful long feathers on my head." The birds and animals still did not understand the nature of fire. So Buzzard flew to the East on his powerful wings, swooped past those defending the fire, picked up a small piece of burning ember, and hid it in his head feathers. Buzzard's head began to smoke and flame even faster! The people of the East said, "Look! Buzzard has stolen the fire!" And they took it and put it back where it came from.

Poor Buzzard! His head was now bare of feathers, red and blistered looking. And to this day, buzzards have naked heads that are bright red and blistered.

The powwow now sent Crow to look the situation over, for Crow was very clever. Crow at that time was pure white, and had the sweetest singing voice of all the birds. But he took so long standing over the fire, trying to find the perfect piece to steal that his white feathers were smoked black. And he breathed so much smoke that when he tried to sing, out came a harsh, "Caw! Caw!"

The Council said, "Opossum has failed. Buzzard and Crow have failed. Who shall we send?"

Tiny Grandmother Spider shouted with all her might, "LET ME TRY IT PLEASE!" Though the council members thought Grandmother Spider had little chance of success, it was agreed that she should have her turn. Grandmother Spider looked then like she looks now, she had a small torso suspended by two sets of legs that turned the other way. She walked on all of her wonderful legs toward a stream where she had found clay. With those legs, she made a tiny clay container and a lid that fit perfectly with a tiny notch for air n the corner of the lid. Then she put the container on her back, spun a web all the way to the East, and walked tiptoe until she came to the fire. She was so small, the people from the East took no notice. She took a tiny piece of fire, put it in the container, and covered it with the lid. Then she walked back on tiptoe along the web until she came to the People. Since they couldn't see any fire, they said, "Grandmother Spider has failed."

"Oh no," she said, "I have the fire!" She lifted the pot from her back, and the lid from the pot, and the fire flamed up into its friend, the air. All the Birds and Animal People began to decide who would get this wonderful warmth. Bear said, "I'll take it!" but then he burned his paws on it and decided fire was not for animals, for look what happened to Opossum!

The Birds wanted no part of it, as Buzzard and Crow were still nursing their wounds. The insects thought it was pretty, but they, too, stayed far away from the fire.

Then a small voice said, "We will take it, if Grandmother Spider will help." The timid humans, whom none of the animals or birds thought much of, were volunteering!

So Grandmother Spider taught the Human People how to feed the fire sticks and wood to keep it from dying, how to keep the fire safe in a circle of stone so it couldn't escape and hurt them or their homes. While she was at it, she taught the humans about pottery made of clay and fire, and about weaving and spinning, at which Grandmother Spider was an expert.

The Choctaw remember. They made a beautiful design to decorate their homes, a picture of Grandmother Spider, two sets of legs up, two down, with a fire symbol on her back. This is so their children never forget to honor Grandmother Spider, Fire bringer!

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Choctaw Corn Legend

The origin of corn is connected with a myth called by Cushman the story of 0hoyo 0sh Chisba (or 0hoyo osh chisba), "The Unknown Woman." With Cushman's usual emotional setting this runs as follows:

In the days of many moons ago, two Choctaw hunters were encamped for the night in the swamps of the bend of the Alabama river.... The two hunters, having been unsuccessful in the chase of that and the preceding day, found themselves on that night with nothing with which to satisfy the carvings of hunger except a black hawk which they had shot with an arrow.

Sad reflections filled their hearts as they thought of their sad disappointments and of their suffering families at home. While the gloomy future spread over them its dark pall of despondency, all serving to render them unhappy indeed.

They cooked the hawk and sat down to partake of their poor and scanty supper, when their attention was drawn from their gloomy forebodings by the low but distinct tones, strange yet soft and plaintive as the melancholy notes of the dove, but produced by what they were unable to even conjecture.

At different intervals it broke the deep silence of the early night with its seemingly muffled notes of woe; and as the nearly full orb ed moon slowly ascended the eastern sky the strange sounds became more frequent and distinct.

With eyes dilated and fluttering heart they looked up and down the river to learn whence the sounds proceeded, but no object except the sandy shores glittering in the moonlight greeted their eyes, while the dark waters of the river seemed alone to give response in murmuring tones to the strange notes that continued to float upon the night air from a direction they could not definitely locate; but happening to look behind them in the direction opposite the moon they saw a woman of wonderful beauty standing upon a mound a few rods distant.

Like an illuminated shadow, she had suddenly appeared out of the moon-lighted forest. She was loosely clad in snow-white raiment, and bore in the folds of her drapery a wreath of fragrant flowers. She beckoned them to approach, while she seemed surrounded by a halo of light that gave to her a supernatural appearance.

Their imagination now influenced them to believe her to be the Great Spirit of their nation, and that the flowers she bore were representatives of loved ones who had passed from earth to bloom in the Spirit Land ...

The mystery was solved. At once they approached (the spot) where she stood, and offered their assistance in any way they could be of service to her. She replied she was very hungry, whereupon one of them ran and brought the roasted hawk and handed it to her.

She accepted it with grateful thanks; but, after eating a small portion of it, she handed the remainder back to them replying that she would remember their kindness when she returned to her home in the happy hunting grounds of her father, who was Shilup Chitoh Osh - The Great Spirit of the Choctaws. She then told them that when the next mid-summer moon should come they must meet her at the mound upon which she was then standing.

She then bade them an affectionate adieu, and was at once borne away upon a gentle breeze and, mysteriously as she came, so she disappeared. The two hunters returned to their camp for the night and early next morning sought their homes, but kept the strange incident to themselves, a profound secret.

When the designated time rolled around the mid-summer full moon found the two hunters at the foot of the mound but Ohoyo Chishba Osh was nowhere to be seen. Then remembering she told them they must come to the very spot where she was then standing, they at once ascended the mound and found it covered with a strange plant, which yielded an excellent food, which was ever afterwards cultivated by the Choctaws, and named by them Tunchi (corn).

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The Alligator And The Hunter

There once was a man who had very bad luck when he hunted. Although the other hunters in his village were always able to bring home deer, this man never succeeded. He was the strongest of the men in the village and he knew the forest well, but his luck was never good. Each time he came close to the deer, something bad would happen.

A jay would call from the trees and the deer would take flight. He would step on dry leaves and the deer would run before he could shoot. His arrow would glance off a twig and miss the deer. It seemed there was no end to his troubles.

Finally the man decided he would go deep into the swamps where there were many deer. He would continue hunting until he either succeeded or lost his own life. The man hunted for three days without success.

At noon on the fourth day, he came to a place in the swamp where there had once been a deep pool. The late summer had been a very dry one, however, and now there was only hot sand where once there had been water. There, resting on the sand, was a huge alligator. It had been without water for many days. It was so dry and weak that it was almost dead. Although the hunter's own luck had been bad, he saw that this alligator's luck was even worse.

"My brother," said the man, "I pity you."

Then the alligator spoke. Its voice was so weak that the man could barely hear it. "Is there
water nearby ?" said the alligator.

"Yes," said the man. "There is a deep pool of clear cool water not far from here. It is just beyond that small stand of trees to the west. There the springs never dry up and the water always runs. If you go to that place, you will survive."

"I cannot travel there by myself," said the alligator. "I am too weak. Come close so I can talk to you. I will not harm your. Help me and I will also help you."

The hunter was afraid of the great alligator, but he came a bit closer. As soon as he was close, the alligator spoke again. "I know that you are a hunter but the deer always escape from you. If you help me, I will make you a great hunter. I will give you the power to kill many deer."

This sounded good to the hunter, but he still feared the alligator's great jaws. "My brother," the man said, "I believe that you will help me, but you are still an alligator. I will carry you to that place, but you must allow me to bind your legs and bind your jaws so that you can do me no harm."

Immediately the alligator rolled over to its back and held up its legs. "Do as you wish," the alligator said. The man bound the alligator's jaws firmly with his sash. He made a bark strap and bound the alligator's legs together.

Then, with his great strength, he lifted the big alligator to his shoulders and carried it to the deep cool water where the springs never dried. He placed the alligator on its back close to the water and he untied its feet. He untied the alligator's jaws, but still held those jaws together with one hand. Then he jumped back quickly.

The alligator rolled into the pool and dove underwater. It stayed under a long time and then came up. Three more times the alligator dove, staying down longer each time. At last it came to the surface and floated there, looking up at the hunter who was seated high on the bank.

"You have done as you said you would," said the alligator. "You have saved me. Now I shall help you, also. Listen closely to me now and you will become a great hunter. Go now into the woods with your bow and arrows. Soon you will meet a small doe. That doe has not yet grown large enough to have young ones. Do not kill that deer. Only greet it and then continue on and your power as a hunter will increase."

The alligator continued, "Soon after that you will meet a large doe. That doe has fawns and will continue to have young ones each year. Do not kill that deer. Greet it and continue on and you will be an even greater hunter."

Then he said, "Next you will meet a small buck. That buck will father many young ones. Do not kill it. Greet it and continue on and your power as a hunter will become greater still."

The alligator then said, "At last you will meet an old buck, larger than any of the others. Its time on Earth has been useful. Now it is ready to give itself to you. Go close to that deer and shoot it. Then greet it and thank it for giving itself to you. Do this and you will be the greatest of hunters."

The hunter did as the alligator said. He went into the forest and met the deer, killing only the old buck. He became the greatest of the hunters in his village.

He told this story to his people. Many of them understood the alligator's wisdom and hunted in that way. That is why the Choctaws became great hunters of the deer. As long as they remembered to follow the alligator's teachings, they were never hungry.

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The Possum And The Raccoon

The Choctaws knew 'Possum when he had hair on his tail. 'Possum's tail was gray with white hair mixed in and it was very nice to look at. When 'Possum met Raccoon he looked and looked at Raccoon's tail. Raccoon's tail had stripes on it and 'Possum wished that he had stripes on his tail too.

'Possum asked Raccoon, "Raccoon, how did you get those stripes on your tail?" Raccoon said, "All raccoons have stripes on their tails." 'Possum told Raccoon, "I want stripes on my tail too!" Raccoon said, "You are a 'possum and you should have a 'possum tail." "But I want stripes", 'Possum pouted.

So Raccoon said, "Someone told me that you could wrap bark from a tree around your tail, then cook your tail over a fire. When your tail is cooked, it will have stripes." 'Possum ran to a tree and took some bark and wrapped his tail. Then 'Possum built a fire and cooked his tail.

When 'Possum unwrapped his tail there were no rings. 'Possum looked again and saw that there was no hair. 'Possum began to cry. Then 'Possum said, "I was so silly. I will always like my tail, no matter how it looks." But the hair never grew back

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The Story Of Tanchi

A long time ago, before there were grocery stores, two Choctaw boys went hunting with bows and arrows. The two Choctaw boys hunted a long time, but did not find a squirrel or deer to kill and eat. The boys did shoot a blackbird. Then the Choctaw boys made a fire with sticks and cooked the bird so they could eat it.

When the bird was cooked, the two boys sat down on the ground to eat. Before they could eat any of the bird, a woman came to them. The woman said, "I am very hungry." The Choctaw boys were respectful so they gave the bird to the woman and she ate it all up. The boys were still hungry, but there was nothing left to eat. They did not tell the woman how hungry they were. The woman said, "Thank you", and the boys said, "You're welcome."

The woman said, "Because you know how to share, I'm going to give you a surprise." Then she told the boys to go home and to come back tomorrow.

The next day, the two Choctaw boys went back to the place where they gave the cooked bird to the woman to eat.

There, where the fire had been built, was something growing that looked like a tree. The skinny tree had yellow things growing on it. The boys did not know what the surprise was. They pulled off one of the yellow things and smelled it. It smelled good. They ate some of it and it tasted good. "Let's take this home and ask somebody what it is", the boys said.

Mother didn't know what it was. Father didn't know what it was. Nobody in the whole town knew what it was, but they liked the way it tasted. Someone said, "What will we call this delicious present the boys have shared with us?" The boys said, "Let's call it tanchi."

And the Choctaws still call the woman's present "tanchi".

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The Tale Of The Wind Horse

At the time when day and night were still deciding who comes first, there lived a Horse that will never be seen again. The Horse was not one that would become as the dying buffalo, for this Horse had no enemies. The reason that this Horse would not be seen again was because of love.

It is a story that begins this way.

The Horse, who was called Wind Horse, was the fastest and gentlest of all the Indian ponies. He felt no fear, there was not one that would harm him. If there was an Indian wounded or that needed a ride, Wind Horse was there to care and to carry the Indian. Because of the kindness of Wind Horse, there is no more.

One day, as Wind Horse was feeling the good feeling from being free, he heard a cry for help. He ran to the edge of the forest and saw an Indian child Boy caught in a trap meant for Bear. The boy's foot was cut off and the Boy could not move. Wind Horse went to the side of the Boy and as the Boy leaned against him, he bent to let the Boy get on his back.

The Boy, who had no name, could not believe that this beautiful Horse would come to him as a friend. All his life he had lived alone, for with his bad leg no one wanted him. As he rode the wind on the horse, he could feel the good feeling that Wind Horse felt. It was as if he were whole and that he was with family.

Wind Horse knew that the wound that the Boy had was one that could not be fixed or healed. He was taking the Boy to the place of the Indian Hunting Ground. This place was where all were made whole and had no fear or need. Wind Horse felt sadness that one as young as this Boy had to go to the Ground but he knew that it would be for the best.

As they traveled, the Boy noticed that the trail was always changing. First it was as it was when the Boy had been hurt, then it was as it was when he had been happy. Then it was the time when he had not been born. Soon he saw things that he did not recognize. The Boy became more close to Wind Horse, for he began to fear.

Wind Horse had seen the times and had seen the Boy and his life. He had felt the feelings of the Boy. Wind Horse knew that if he continued this ride, he would not be free any more. For the feelings that the Boy felt were now becoming the feelings of Wind Horse. For Wind Horse was the last of his race, the race of Horses that would feel the feelings of the rider.

Should the rider remain on the Horse of Wind, he would share the fate of the rider, for then a bond would be made that would not and could not be broken. Wind Horse knew of this bond, and as a result, always put off the rider before any bond was made. This time, Wind Horse knew this would be his last rider.

As they traveled, the Boy began to talk to Wind Horse and Wind Horse listened. He listened to the hopes of the Boy that someday he would run with the leaves that blew across the ground. He listened as the Boy wished for someone to care and love the Boy who had the bad leg. As Wind Horse listened, he began to feel the love for the Boy that the Boy had wanted to give a friend.

"Yes," Wind Horse thought, "This is my last ride for I have found one that needs the feelings that I can give. Since I am the last of my race, I will spend the rest of my time with the one that can and will give the feelings that I need."

Wind Horse turned his head and nuzzled the Boy's head. He began to slow, for the end of the journey was near. The Boy looked up and saw the home of those who had gone before. He realized that his journey was the last one he would ever make. He began to feel fear. But as the Horse stopped to let the Boy down, the Boy realized that he had two good legs and that all his wounds, hunger, need, and hurt were gone. The Horse made no move to leave and the Boy knew that the Horse had also made his last journey.

Wind Horse had never brought his riders to the Hunting Ground, so he was not familiar with the place. He had a new world to explore and he had a friend to explore it with. As Wind Horse and the Boy walked into their new world, the Indian People felt a great sadness. Even though the People could not know what was happening, the feeling of great loss and unhappiness was all around. Wind Horse could hear their cries of despair, but he knew that with the passing of many suns and moons, they would soon forget him and his race.

Wind Horse had made his last journey. He would miss all his travels and the friends that he had made and helped along the way. He prayed to the Great Spirit to send a reminder to the Indian People of the friendship that he and the Indian People had shared. And with Wind Horse's prayer, the Horse was given to the Indian People as friends

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Why The Flowers Grow

One day little Josephine went with her Aunt Selee to look at her grandmother's flower garden. Josephine thought her aunt would like some of the flowers so she started picking some. When her aunt saw Josephine, she called, "Sutapa, sutapa! (You hurt; quit)." Then she began to cry.

Josephine was distressed and puzzled. She ran into the house to her grandmother. "Grandmother," she said, almost in tears, "why is Aunt Selee crying? I did not touch her but she called to me, "You hurt, quit!"

"I understand," replied her grandmother as she saw the flowers in Joesphines' hand.

"Would you like to have these flowers, Grandmother?" Josephine asked when she saw her looking at them. "I broke them for Aunt Selee but I don't think she would want them now."

"No, Josephine, she wouldn't. The Indians love the wild and the garden flowers but they never pick them."

"But, Grandmother, they are so pretty!"

"You do not understand, child. Let's sit here and I'll tell you why." Long ago when the world was young, there was in the heavens a constellation where shone the brightest star in all the sky. This beautiful star, Bright Eyes, was happy because earth people loved her beauty. After many years a star that made Bright Eyes dim came into the sky. This made her sad because people could not see her face. She called to her sisters, "Come, sisters, let us go down to earth where we can live with the earth people and make them happy. The new star has hidden my light and the sky does not need us any longer."

"On their way to earth, Bright Eyes and her sisters stopped on Mount Joy where lived Uncta, the great bronze spider, spinner of finest webs. "We must learn to spin if Uncta will teach us," said Bright Eyes. He was proud of his spinning and weaving and was glad to teach the maidens. He set them to work and soon they were able to spin beautiful threads and weave them into fine cloth. "You and your sisters have done well," Uncta told Bright Eyes."

"How did they get to earth?" asked Josephine.

"Bright Eyes said to Uncta one day, "Will you help us get to earth? We want to teach the people how to spin and weave." He wove a basket and fastened it to a strong thread to lower them to earth.

"When they touched the earth, they became the Little Folk. They loved the forests; and there they lived, working, dancing and playing. Earth people learned quickly to spin and weave. Then the Little Folk taught them how to make bright colors and use them in weaving their rugs and blankets. Earth people, Indians, loved these Little Folk who helped them and Bright Eyes was happy again.

"Bright Eyes and her sisters assisted the Indians when they were sick. They went into the forests to pray to Great Spirit to protect the Indians. They told the people to pray to Great Spirit too.

"All of the prayers went up to Sandlephone who sat on a great ladder high in the sky. As soon as the prayers had come into his hands, they were changed into lovely flowers. He closed the blossoms and dropped the seeds upon the earth while the perfume was carried on into the heavens where Great Spirit was.

"The Little Folk cared for the seeds as they fell and from them sprang the wild flowers. They watched and tended the flowers. The Indians loved them but never hurt them. They called the flowers "Tokens of Love from Great Spirit."

"Oh," said Josephine, "after this I shall not break them."

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Cochiti Indian Lore:

 

 

A Contest For Wives

At Amatsushe they were living; Old Coyote and Old Coyote Woman lived on one side of the hill and Old Beaver and Old Beaver Woman lived on the other. They visited each other every night.
One night it was snowing, deep, and Old Coyote said to his wife,
"I shall go to Old Brother Beaver to invite him to go hunting, and to make plans for exchanging our wives."

When Coyote got there, he called, "Hello."
Beaver answered,
"Hello, come in and sit down."
They sat together by the fireplace to smoke.
Coyote said,
"I came to tell you we are to go hunting. If we kill any rabbits we'll bring them to our wives. I'll bring mine to your wife, and you can bring yours to mine."
"All right," Old Beaver agreed.
"You go first," said Coyote.
"No, you go first. This is your invitation; you invited me," Beaver insisted.
"All right, I shall go early in the morning." Coyote said to Old Beaver Woman, "In the morning I am going hunting for you."
"All right. I shall sing the song so that you will kill many rabbits."
Old Beaver Woman started to fix the supper. She wanted it ready for his return. Old Coyote was gone for the whole day.
It was evening, and he did not come home at all. Sitting near the fireplace, Old Beaver Woman waited and waited. She started to sing her song:
"Old Coyote, Old Coyote, come sleep with me, Come have intercourse with me, Ai-ooai-oo."
Old Beaver said,
"What are you singing about? He won't kill anything, for he isn't any hunter."

Coyote killed nothing, and Beaver Woman waited and waited but Coyote never came.

Next day it was Old Beaver's turn to go hunting. He went to tell Old Coyote Woman that she must wait for him, for he was going to hunt rabbits for her.
"All right," she said.

And he killed so many that he could hardly carry them. In the morning Beaver came into Coyote's house and said,
"Old Coyote Woman, here are the rabbits."
She took them and said,
"Thank you, thank you, Old Man Beaver."
They went straight into the inner room, and Old Man Coyote was left by himself in the front room. He was very angry.
They gave him his supper, and when he had finished, they went in to bed.

Old Man Beaver started to have intercourse with Old Coyote Woman. Old Coyote Woman cried out, and Old Coyote called out,
"Old Beaver, don't hurt my wife."
Old Coyote Woman answered,
"Shut up, Old Man Coyote! It's because I like it that I'm crying out."

When he had finished, Old Man Beaver came out. He said to Old Coyote,
"We won't keep bad feelings against each other; this was your plan. I shall always wait for you at my house whenever you want to visit me."
And they were as good neighbors as ever.


 

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Coyote spills the stars
In the beginning days when all came up from the underworld a huge gathering was planned, uniting all the four-legged and flyers. At this meeting Our Mother selected a human being to take a jar of stars, hang them in the sky and name them for all to enjoy.

Coyote was very interested in what was going on, but being a wiggler and trickster then as he is no, Our Mother turned to him and said "Do not make mischief here!"

The human being was busy, placing the stars in ordered patterns upon the sky...Seven Stars here and the three Pot Rest Stars there. When he had placed the beautiful Morning Star he stood back and admired his work, as did all the rest.

While everyone including Our Mother was gathered to gaze at the luminous Morning Star, Coyote tiptoed over to the jar of stars to see for himself what the man was doing. As he lifted the jar's lid just a little, the stars rose to the occasion, pushed the lid away and raced for the sky. This is the reason so many twinkle without order or pattern, and why so many are not named.

Our Mother was angry with Coyote, and said that because of his mischief with the stars Coyote would forever be a wanderer and bring trouble with him wherever he may go. That some days he could be happy and abundant, but other days he would see unhappiness and hunger.


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Salt Woman Is Refused Food

Old Salt Woman had a grandson, and they were very poor.
They came to Cochiti and went from house to house, but people turned them away. They were all busy cooking for a feast. At that time they used no salt.

When Salt Woman and her grandson had been to all the houses, they came to a place outside the pueblo where lots of children were playing.
All the children came to see the magic crystal Salt Woman had in her hand.
She led them to a pinion tree and told them each to take hold of a branch of the tree and swing themselves.
Using her magic crystal, she turned them into chaparral jays who live in pinion trees.
"When we were in the pueblo, nobody would invite us to stay," Salt Woman said. "From now on you will be chaparral jays."

Salt Woman and her grandson went south and came to Santa Domingo, where they were well treated and fed.
After they had eaten and were leaving, Salt Woman said,
"I am very thankful for being given food to eat," and she left them some of her flesh.
The people of the house ate it with their bread and meat. It tasted good - salty.

"At Cochiti," Salt Woman told them, "they treated me badly, and when I left, I took all the children outside the pueblo and changed them into chaparral jays roosting in a pinon tree. But to you I am grateful. Therefore remember that if I am in your food, it will always taste better.
I will go southeast and stay there, and if any of you want more of my flesh you will find it at that place. And when you come to gather, let there be no laughing, no singing, nothing of that kind. Be quiet and clean."

So she left Santa Domingo and went to Salt Lake, where we get salt today.




 

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The Neglectful Mother

Crow had been sitting on the eggs in her nest for many days, and she got tired of it and flew away. Hawk came by and found nobody on the nest. Hawk said to herself, "The person who owns this nest must no longer care for it. What a shame for those poor little eggs! I will sit on them, and they will be my children." She sat for many days on the eggs, and finally they began to hatch. Still no Crow came. The little ones all hatched out and the mother Hawk flew about getting food for them. They grew bigger and bigger and their wings got strong, and at last it was time for the mother Hawk to take them off then nest.

After all this while, Crow finally remembered her nest. When she came back to it she found the eggs hatched and Hawk taking care of her little ones.

"Hawk!"

"What is it?"

"You must return these little ones you are leading around."

"Why?"

"Because they are mine!"

Hawk said, "Yes, you laid the eggs, but you had no pity on the poor things. You went off and left them. I came and sat on the nest and hatched them. When they were hatched, I fed them, and now I lead them about. They are mine, and I won't return them."

Crow said, "I shall take them back."

"No, you won't! I worked for them, and for many days I fasted, sitting there on the eggs. In all that time you didn't come near them. Why is it now, when I've taken care of them and brought them up, that you want them back?"

Crow said to the little ones, "My children, com with me. I am your mother."

But the little ones said that they did not know her. "Hawk is our mother." At last when she couldn't make them come with her, she said, "Very well, I'll take Hawk to court, and we shall see who has the right to these children."

So Mother Crow took Mother Hawk before the king of the birds. Eagle said to Crow, "Why did you leave your nest?" Crow hung her head and had no answer to that. But she said, "When I came back to my nest, I found my eggs already hatched and Hawk taking charge of the little ones. I have come to ask that Hawk return the children to me."

Eagle said to Mother Hawk, "How did you find this nest of eggs?"

"Many times I went to it and found it empty. No one came for long time, and at last I had pity upon the poor little eggs. I said to myself, 'The mother who made this nest can no longer care for these eggs. I would be glad to hatch the little ones.' I sat on them and they hatched. Then I went about getting food for them. I worked hard and brought them up, and they have grown."

Mother Crow interrupted mother Hawk and said, "But they're my children. I laid the eggs."

"It's not your turn. We are both asking for justice, and it will be given to us. Wait till I have spoken."

Eagle said to Mother Hawk, "Is that all?"

"Yes, I have worked hard to raise my two little ones. Just when they were grown, Mother Crow came and asked to have them back again, but I won't give them back. It is I who fasted and worked, and they are mine now."

The king of birds said to Mother Crow, "If you really had pity on your little ones, why did you leave the nest for so many days? And why are you demanding to have them now? Mother Hawk is the mother of the little ones, for she has fasted and hatched them, and flown about searching for their food. Now they are her children."

Mother Crow said to the king of the birds, "King, you should ask the little ones which mother they choose to follow. They enough to know which one to take."

So the king said to the little ones, Which mother will you choose?"

Both answered together, "Mother Hawk is our mother. She's all the mother we know."

Crow cried, No, I'm your only mother."

The little Crow children said, "In the nest you had no pity on us; you left us. Mother Hawk hatched us, and she is our mother."

So it was finally settled s the little ones had said: they were the children of Mother Hawk, who had had pity on them in the nest and brought them up.

Mother Crow began to weep. The king said to her, "Don't cry. It's your own fault. This is the final decision of the king of birds." So Mother crow lost her children.

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Comanche Indian Lore:


Shooting The Red Eagle
A man in buckskins sat upon the top of a little hillock. The setting sun shone bright upon a strong bow in his hand. His face was turned toward the round camp ground at the foot of the hill. He had walked a long journey hither. He was waiting for the chieftain's men to spy him.

Soon four strong men ran forth from the center wigwam toward the hillock, where sat the man with the long bow.

"He is the avenger come to shoot the red eagle," cried the runners to each other as they bent forward swinging their elbows together.

They reached the side of the stranger, but he did not heed them. Proud and silent he gazed upon the cone-shaped wigwam beneath him. Spreading a handsomely decorated buffalo robe before the man, two of the warriors lifted him by each shoulder and placed him gently on it.
Then the four men took, each, a corner of the blanket and carried the stranger, with long proud steps, toward the chieftain's teepee.

Ready to greet the stranger, the tall chieftain stood at the entrance way.
"How, you are the avenger with the magic arrow!" said he, extending to him a smooth soft hand.

"How, great chieftain!" replied the man, holding long the chieftain's hand.

Entering the teepee, the chieftain motioned the young man to the right side of the doorway, while he sat down opposite him with a center fire burning between them. Wordless, like a bashful Indian maid, the avenger ate in silence the food set before him on the ground in front of his crossed shines.
When he had finished his meal he handed the empty bowl to the chieftain's wife, saying,
"Mother-in-law, here is your dish!"
"Han, my son!" answered the woman, taking the bowl.

With the magic arrow in his quiver the stranger felt not in the least too presuming in addressing the woman as his mother-in-law.

Complaining of fatigue, he covered his face with his blanket and soon within the chieftain's teepee he lay fast asleep.

"The young man is not handsome after all!" whispered the woman in her husband's ear.
"Ah, but after he has killed the red eagle he will seem handsome enough!" answered the chieftain.

That night the star men in their burial procession in the sky reached the low northern horizon, before the center fires within the tepees had flickered out.
The ringing laughter, which had floated up through the smoke lapels, was now hushed, and only the distant howling of wolves broke the quiet of the village.

But the lull between midnight and dawn was short indeed. Very early the oval-shaped door-flaps were thrust aside and many brown faces peered out of the wigwam toward the top of the highest bluff.

Now the sun rose up out of the east. The red painted avenger stood ready within the camp ground for the flying of the red eagle. He appeared, that terrible bird! He hovered over the round village as if he could pounce down upon it and devour the whole tribe.

When the first arrow shot up into the sky the anxious watchers thrust a hand quickly over their half-uttered "hinnu!" The second and the third arrows flew upward but missed by a wide space the red eagle soaring with lazy indifference over the little man with the long bow.
All his arrows he spent in vain.
"Ah! my blanket brushed my elbow and shifted the course of my arrow!" said the stranger as the people gathered around him.

During this happening, a woman on horseback halted her pony at the chieftain's teepee. It was no other than a young woman who cut loose a tree-bound captive!

While she told the story the chieftain listened with downcast face.
"I passed him on my way. He is near!" she ended.

Indignant at the bold impostor, the wrathful eyes of the chieftain snapped fire like red cinders in the night time. His lips were closed. At length to the woman he said:
"How, you have done me a good deed."
Then with quick decision he gave command to a fleet horseman to meet the avenger.
"Clothe him in these my best buckskins," said he, pointing to a bundle within the wigwam.

In the meanwhile strong men seized Iktomi, the bowman, and dragged him by his long hair to the hilltop.
There upon a mock-pillared grave they bound him hand and feet. Grown-ups and children sneered and hooted at Iktomi's disgrace. For a half-day he lay there, the laughing-stock of the people.
Upon the arrival of the real avenger, Iktomi was released and chased away beyond the outer limits of the camp ground.

On the following morning at daybreak, peeped the people out of half-open door-flaps.
There again in the midst of the large camp ground was a man in beaded buckskins. In his hand was a strong bow and red-tipped arrow. Again the big red eagle appeared on the edge of the bluff. He plumed his feathers and flapped his huge wings.

The young man crouched low to the ground. He placed the arrow on the bow, drawing a poisoned flint for the eagle.
The bird rose into the air. He moved his outspread wings one, two, three times and lo! the eagle tumbled from the great height and fell heavily to the earth. An arrow stuck in his breast!
He was dead!

So quick was the hand of the avenger, so sure his sight, that no one had seen the arrow fly from his long bent bow.

In awe and amazement the village was dumb. And when the avenger, plucking a red eagle feather, placed it in his black hair, a loud shout of the people went up to the sky.
Then hither and thither ran singing men and women making a great feast for the avenger.

Thus he won the beautiful Indian princess who never tired of telling to her children the story of the big red eagle.


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The Release Of The Wild Animals

Long ago two people owned all the buffalo. They were old woman and her young cousin. They kept them penned up in the mountains, so that they could not get out. Coyote came to people. He summoned the Indians to a council. "That old woman will not give us anything.

When we get over there we will plan how we will release the buffalo." They all moved near the buffalo enclosure. "After four nights," said Coyote, "we will again hold a council as how we can release the buffalo. A very small animal shall go where the old woman draws her water. When the child gets the water. it will take it home for a pet. The old woman will object: but the child will think so much of the animal it will begin to cry and will be allowed to keep the animal. The anima will run off at daybreak, and the buffalo will burst out of their pen and run away." The first animal failed. Then they sent Kill deer.

When the boy went for water he found Kill deer and took him home. "Look here!" he said to his cousin, "this animal of mine is very good." The old woman replied, "Oh it is good for nothing!" There is nothing living on earth that is not a rascal or schemer." The child paid no attention to her. "Take it back where you got it," said the old woman. He obeyed. The Kill deer returned.

The people had another council. "Well, she has got the better of these two. They have failed," said Coyote; but that makes no difference. Perhaps we may release them, perhaps we may fail.

This is the third time now. We will send a small animal over there. If the old woman agrees to take it, it will liberate those buffalo; it's a great schemer. "So they sent the third animal. Coyote said. "If she rejects this one. we shall surely be unable to liberate the game." The animal went to the spring and was picked up by the boy, who took a great liking to it. "Look here! What a nice pet I have!" The old woman replied, "Oh, how foolish you are! It is good for nothing, All the animals in the world are schemers. I'll kill it with a club." the boy took it in his arms and ran away crying. He thought too much of his pet. "No! This animal is too small," he cried. When the animal had not returned by nightfall. Coyote went among the people, saying, "Well this animal has not returned yet, I dare say old woman has consented to keep it. Don't be uneasy, our buffalo will be freed." Then he bade all the people get ready just at daybreak. "Our buffalo will be released. Do all you mount your horses. In the meantime the animal, following it's instructions, slipped over the pen, and began to howl. The buffalo heard it and were terrified. They ran toward the gate broke it down and escaped. The old woman, hearing the noise, woke up. The child asked, "Where is my pet?" he did not fide it. The old woman said, "I told you so. Now you see the animal is bad, it has deprived us of our game." She vainly tried to hold the buffalo back, At daybreak all the Indians got on their horses, for they had confidence in Coyote. Thus the buffalo came to live on this earth. Coyote was a great schemer.

 

 

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Cree Indian Lore:

 

Warriors of the Rainbow

There was an old lady, from the "Cree" tribe, named "Eyes of Fire", who prophesied that one day, because of the white mans' or Yo-ne-gis' greed, there would come a time, when the fish would die in the streams, the birds would fall from the air, the waters would be blackened, and the trees would no longer be, mankind as we would know it would all but cease to exist.

There would come a time when the "keepers of the legend, stories, culture rituals, and myths, and all the Ancient Tribal Customs" would be needed to restore us to health. They would be mankind key to survival, they were the "Warriors of the Rainbow". There would come a day of awakening when all the peoples of all the tribes would form a New World of Justice, Peace, Freedom and recognition of the Great Spirit.

The "Warriors of the Rainbow" would spread these messages and teach all peoples of the Earth or "Elohim". They would teach them how to live the "Way of the Great Spirit". They would tell them of how the world today has turned away from the Great Spirit and that is why our Earth is "Sick".

The "Warriors of the Rainbow" would show the peoples that this "Ancient Being" (the Great Spirit), is full of love and understanding, and teach them how to make the "Earth or Elohim" beautiful again. These Warriors would give the people principles or rules to follow to make their path right with the world. These principles would be those of the Ancient Tribes. The Warriors of the Rainbow would teach the people of the ancient practices of Unity, Love and Understanding. They would teach of Harmony among people in all four comers of the Earth.

Like the Ancient Tribes, they would teach the peoples how to pray to the Great Spirit with love that flows like the beautiful mountain stream, and flows along the path to the ocean of life. Once again, they would be able to feel joy in solitude and in councils. They would be free of petty jealousies and love all mankind as their brothers, regardless of color, race or religion. They would feel happiness enter their hearts, and become as one with the entire human race. Their hearts would be pure and radiate warmth, understanding and respect for all mankind, Nature, and the Great Spirit. They would once again fill their minds, hearts, souls, and deeds with the purest of thoughts. They would seek the beauty of the Master of Life - the Great Spirit! They would find strength and beauty in prayer and the solitudes of life.

Their children would once again be able to run free and enjoy the treasures of Nature and Mother Earth. Free from the fears of toxins and destruction, wrought by the Yo-ne-gi and his practices of greed. The rivers would again run clear, the forests be abundant and beautiful, the animals and birds would be replenished. The powers of the plants and animals would again be respected and conservation of all that is beautiful would become a way of life.

The poor, sick and needy would be cared for by their brothers and sisters of the Earth. These practices would again become a part of their daily lives.

The leaders of the people would be chosen in the old way - not by their political party, or who could speak the loudest, boast the most, or by name calling or mud slinging, but by those whose actions spoke the loudest. Those who demonstrated their love, wisdom, and courage and those who showed that they could and did work for the good of all, would be chosen as the leaders or Chiefs. They would be chosen by their "quality" and not the amount of money they had obtained. Like the thoughtful and devoted "Ancient Chiefs", they would understand the people with love, and see that their young were educated with the love and wisdom of their surroundings. They would show them that miracles can be accomplished to heal this world of its ills, and restore it to health and beauty.

The tasks of these "Warriors of the Rainbow" are many and great. There will be terrifying mountains of ignorance to conquer and they shall find prejudice and hatred. They must be dedicated, unwavering in their strength, and strong of heart. They will find willing hearts and minds that will follow them on this road of returning "Mother Earth" to beauty and plenty - once more.

The day will come, it is not far away. The day that we shall see how we owe our very existence to the people of all tribes that have maintained their culture and heritage. Those that have kept the rituals, stories, legends, and myths alive. It will be with this knowledge, the knowledge that they have preserved, that we shall once again return to "harmony" with Nature, Mother Earth, and mankind. It will be with this knowledge that we shall find our "Key to our Survival".

This is the story of the "Warriors of the Rainbow" and this is my reason for protecting the culture, heritage, and knowledge of my ancestors. I know that the day "Eyes of Fire" spoke of - will come! I want my children and grandchildren to be prepared to accept this task.The task of being one of the........"Warriors of the Rainbow".

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Creek Indian Lore:

 

      How Rabbit Fooled Alligator

Long ago, the Creek nation lived mostly in the area of Georgia and Florida. Tribal storytellers loved to relate the following legend over and over to their young people, who loved to hear it again and again.

When the animals talked with each other just like people do today, a very handsome alligator lay sunning himself luxuriously on a log in which we now call the Florida Everglades. Then along came Mr. Rabbit, who said to him, "Mr. Handsome Alligator, have you ever seen the devil?"

"No, Mr. Rabbit, but I am not afraid of the devil. Are you?" replied Mr. Alligator.

"Well now, Mr. A., I did see the devil. Do you know what he said about you?" asked Rabbit.

"Now, just what did the devil have to say about me?" Alligator replied.

"The devil said that you are afraid of him," said Rabbit. "Besides, he said you would not even look at him."

"Rubbish," said Alligator. "I know that I am not afraid of the devil and I am not afraid to look at him. Please tell him so for me the next time you see him."

"I do not think you are willing to crawl up the hill the day after tomorrow and allow me to introduce you to the devil himself," said Rabbit.

"Oh, yes, I am willing and ready to go with you," replied Alligator. "Let us go tomorrow."

"That is just fine with me," replied Rabbit. "But Mr. A., when you see some smoke rising somewhere, do not be afraid. It is a sign that the devil is moving about and will soon be on his way."

"You do not have to worry about me," said Alligator. "I told you I am not afraid of the devil."

"When you see the friendly birds flying about, and the deer running at a gallop, do not be afraid," said Rabbit.

"Don't you be concerned, because I will not be afraid," repeated Alligator.

"If you hear some fire crackling and its comes closer to you, do not be scared," said Rabbit. "If the grasses near you begin to smoke, do not be scared. The devil is only wandering about. Then is the time for you to get a good look at him when the heat is hottest."

After Rabbit's final words of wisdom, he left Alligator sunning himself.

Next day, Rabbit returned and asked Alligator to crawl up the hill, following him. Rabbit led him to the very top and directed him to lie in the tallest grass. Then Rabbit left Alligator, laughing to himself all the way down the hill, because he had led Alligator to the farthest place away from his home in the water.

On his way, Rabbit came to a smoldering stump. He picked up a piece, carrying it back to the high grass, where he made a fire so the wind blew it toward Alligator.

Soon the fire surrounded the place, burning closer and closer to Alligator. Rabbit then ran to a sandy knoll and sat down to watch the fun, chuckling over the trick he had played on Mr. Alligator.

Only a short time passed when the smoke rose in thick spirals, and the birds flew upward and away. Other animals ran for their lives across the field.

Alligator cried out, "Oh, Mr. Rabbit, where are you?"

"You just lie there quietly," replied Rabbit. "It's only the devil prowling about."

The fire began to roar and spread rapidly. "Oh, Mr. Rabbit, what is that I hear?" asked Alligator.

"That's just the devil breathing hard," replied Rabbit. "Do not be scared. You will see him soon!"

Rabbit became so amused that he rolled and rolled on the sandy knoll and kicked his heels up in the air with glee.

Soon the grass surrounding Alligator caught fire and began to burn beneath him. Alligator rolled and twisted with pain from his burns.

"Do not be afraid now, Mr. Alligator," called Rabbit. "Just be quiet for a little while longer, and the devil will be there for you to get a firsthand look at him."

Alligator could not stand any more toasting! He started to crawl as fast as he could down the hillside toward the water. He wriggled through the burning grass, snapping his jaws, rolling in pain, and choking from the smoke.

Rabbit, upon his sandy knoll, laughed and laughed, jumping up and down with delight at the trick he had played on Alligator.

"Wait a minute, Mr. A. Don't be in such a hurry. You said you were not afraid of the devil," called Rabbit.

By that time Alligator had reached his home in the water, tumbling in to stop the pain of his roasted skin.

Never again did Mr. Handsome Alligator trust that trickster, Mr. Rabbit, or any of his family, ever!

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The Cussitawas Come East
At a certain time the earth opened in the west, where its mouth is.
The earth opened and the Cussitaws came out of its mouth, and settled near by.
But the earth became angry and ate up their children; therefore,they moved farther west.

A part of them however,turned back, and came again to the same place where they had been, and settled there.
The greater number remained behind, because they thought it best to do so.
Their children nevertheless, were eaten by the Earth, so that, full of satisfaction, they journeyed toward the sunrise.




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Crow Indian Lore:

 

Old Man Coyote Makes The World

How water came to be, nobody knows. Where Old Man Coyote came from, nobody knows. But he was, he lived. Old Man Coyote spoke: "It is bad that I am alone. I should have someone to talk to. It is bad that there is only water and nothing else." Old Man Coyote walked around. Then he saw some who were living - two ducks with red eyes.
"Younger brothers," he said, "is there anything in this world but water and still more water? What do you think?"
"Why," said the ducks, "we think there might be something deep down below the water. In our hearts we believe this."
"Well, younger brothers, go and dive. Find out if there is something. Go!"
One of the ducks dove down. He stayed under water for a long, long time.
"How sad!" Old Man Coyote said. "Our younger brother must have drowned."
"No way has he drowned," said the other duck. "We can live underwater for a long time. Just wait."
At last the first duck came to the surface. "What our hearts told us was right," he said. "There is something down there, because my head bumped into it."
"Well, my younger brother, whatever it may be, bring it up."
The duck dived again. A long time he stayed down there. when he came up, he had something in his beak. "Why, what can this be?" Old Man Coyote took it. "Why, this is a root," he said. "Where there are roots, there must be earth. My younger brother, dive again. If you find something soft, bring it up."
The duck went down a third time. This time he came up with a small lump of soft earth in his bill.
Old Man Coyote examined it. "Ah, my younger brother, this is what I wanted. This I will make big. This I will spread around. This little handful of mud shall be our home."
Old Man Coyote blew on the little lump, which began to grow and spread all over. "What a surprise, elder brother!" said the ducks. "this is wonderful! We are pleased." Old Man Coyote took the little root.
In the soft mud he planted it. Then things started to grow. Grasses, plants, trees, all manner of food Old Man Coyote made in this way.
"Isn't this pretty?" he asked. "What do you think?"
"Elder brother," answered the ducks, "this is indeed very pretty. But it's too flat. why don't you hollow some places out, and here and there make some hills and mountains. Wouldn't that be a fine thing?"
"Yes, my younger brothers. I'll do as you say. While I'm about it, I will also make some rivers, ponds, and springs so that wherever we go, we can have cool, fresh water to drink."
"Ah, that's fine, elder brother," said the ducks after Old Man Coyote had made all these things. "How very clever you are."
"Well, is something still missing, younger brothers? What do your hearts believe?"
"Everything is so beautiful, elder brother. What could be missing?"
"Companions are missing," Old Man Coyote said. "We are alone. It's boring."
He took up a handful of mud, and out of it made people. How he did this, no-one can imagine. The people walked about. Watching them, Old Man Coyote was pleased, but the ducks were not so happy.
"Elder brother," they said, "you have made companions for yourself, but none for us."
"Why, that's true. I forgot it." Right away he made all kinds of ducks. "There, my younger brothers, now you can be happy."
After a while Old Man Coyote remarked: "Something is wrong here." "But everything is good. We're no longer bored. What could be wrong?"
"Why, don't you see, I've made all these people men, and all the ducks I made are male. How can they be happy? How can they increase?" Forthwith he made women. Forthwith he made female ducks. Then there was joy. Then there was contentment. Then there was increase. That's the way it happened.

Old Man Coyote walked about on the earth he had made. Suddenly he encountered Cirape, the coyote.
"Why, younger brother, what a wonderful surprise! Where did you come from?"
"Well, my elder brother, I don't know. I exist. That's all. Here I am. Cirape, I call myself. What's your name?"
"Old Man Coyote, they call me." He waved his hand: "All that you see around you, I made."
"You did well. But there should be some animals besides ducks."
"Yes, you're right, come to think of it. Now, I'll pronounce some animal names. As soon as I say one, that animal will be made."
Old Man Coyote named buffalo, deer, elk, antelopes, and bear. And all these came into being. After some time the bear said to Old Man Coyote: "Why did you make me? There's nothing to do. We're all bored."
"I have made females for you. this should keep everybody busy."
"Well, elder brother, one can't do that all the time."
"Yes, you're right; it's true. Well, I'll think of something. I'll make a special bird."

From one of the bears' claws he made wings. From a caterpillar's hair he made feet. From a bit of buffalo sinew he made a beak. From leaves he made a tail. He put all these things together and formed a prairie chicken. Old Man Coyote instructed it: "There are many pretty birds. You I haven't made pretty, but I gave you a special power. Every dawn as the sun rises, you shall dance. You will hop and strut with your head down. You will raise your tail and shake it. Spreading your wings, you shall dance - thus!"
At once the prairie chicken danced. All the animals watched, and soon they began to dance too. Now there was something to keep them amused. But the bear still wasn't satisfied. "I gave you a claw to make part of this prairie chicken," he told Old Man Coyote. "why didn't you give me my own dance? I don't want to dance like a chicken."
"Well, all right, cousin. I'll give you a dance of your own. Thus and thus, this way and that, you shall dance."
"Old Man Coyote," the bear kept complaining, "how can I dance? Something is missing."
"How can something be missing? I've made everything."
"There should be some kind of sound to dance to."
"Why, you're right. There should be." Forthwith Old Man Coyote made a little grouse and gave him a song. Then he made a drum - how, no man can imagine. The little grouse sang and drummed, and everybody danced.
"Why should this no-account prairie chicken dance?" asked the bear.
"Why should all those little, no-account animals dance? I alone should have this dance power."
"Why, they're happy. The choke cherries are ripe, the sun is shining. All of them feel like dancing. Why should you be the only one?"
"I am big and important. So I alone should dance."
"Why, listen to him, how he talks! Be polite to me who made you."
"Ho! You didn't make me. I made myself."
"How impolite!" said Old Man Coyote. "He is threatening the little animals with his big claws." He told the bear: "You're not fit to live among us. You will stay in a den by yourself and eat decayed, rotten things. In winter you will sleep, because the less we see of you, the better." So it was.

One day Old Man Coyote and Cirape were walking and talking. "Something you forgot," Cirape said to Old Man Coyote. "How could I have forgotten something?" "Why, those people you made. They live poorly. They should have tools, tepees to live in, a fire to cook by and warm themselves." "You're right. Why didn't I think of that?" Forthwith he made a fire with lightning and the people rejoiced. "Now everything is finished. What do you think?"
"Oh, elder brother, the people should have bows and arrows and spears for better hunting. Often they starve."
"That's so, I'll give out weapons."
"Elder brother, give weapons, but only to the people, not to the animals."
"Why should the animals have bows and arrows too?"
"Don't you see? The animals are swift; they already have big claws, teeth, and powerful horns. The people are slow. Their teeth and nails are not very strong. If animals had weapons, how could the people survive?"
"Why, my younger brother, you think of everything." Forthwith he gave the people bows and spears. "Younger brother, are you satisfied now?"
"No, not at all. There's only one language, and you can't fight somebody who speaks your language. There should be enmity; there should be war."
"What are wars good for?"
"Oh, my respected elder brother, sometimes you're just not thinking. War is a good thing. Say you're a young warrior. You paint yourself with vermillion. You wear a fine war shirt. You start. You sing wars songs. You have war honors. You look at the good-looking young girls. You look at the young women whose husbands have no war honors. They look back at you. You go on the warpath. You steal the enemy's horses. You steal his women and maidens. You count coup, do brave deeds. You are rich. You have gifts to give away. They sing songs honoring you. You have many loves. And by and by you become a chief."
"Ah, Cirape, my younger brother, you've hit upon something."

Old Man Coyote divided the people into tribes, giving them different languages. Then there was war, then there was horse stealing, then there was counting coup, then there was singing of honoring songs. After a long time, Old Man coyote was walking with Cirape again.
"You are very clever, my younger brother, but there are some things you don't know. Let me tell you: When we marry a young woman, when we take her to wife secretly, how satisfying it is! What pleasure it gives us!"
"Yes, my elder brother, just so. That's how it is with me."
"Ah, but after some years, after you have lived with one woman for awhile, you lose interest. You are yearning for someone new. So you steal someone else's wife. In this back-and-forth wife stealing that goes on in our tribe, has some fellow ever made off with your wife? A proud young warrior, maybe?"
"Why yes, my elder brother. It was such a man who took a plump, pleasing young wife away from me. It would have been better if an enemy from another tribe had done it. It would have been easier to bear if she were far away where I couldn't see them together."
"Well, younger brother, if she would come back, would you take her?"
"What, take her back? Never! I have honor, I respect myself. How could I do such a thing?"
"Ah, Cirape, how foolish you are. You know nothing. Three times my wife has been abducted, and three times I have taken her back. Now when I say 'come', she comes. When I say 'go', she goes. Whenever I tell her to do something, she remembers that she has been stolen. I never have to remind her. She is eager to please. she fulfills my every desire. Under the blanket she's a hot one - she has learned things. This is the best wife, the best kind of loving."
"That's how you feel. But people mock you. They look at you sideways and laugh behind your back. They say: 'He has taken what another one threw away.'"
"Ah, younger brother of mine, what do I care if they laugh behind my back when, under our buffalo robe, I am laughing for my own reasons? Let me tell you, there's nothing more satisfying than having a wife who has been stolen once or twice. Tell me: Do they steal ugly old wives, or young and pretty ones?"

So because of Old Man Coyote's sensible advice, there was mutual wife stealing among the Crows in the old days. And that's why Crow men ever since have taken back wives they had already divorced. In one way or another, everything that exists or that is happening goes back to Old Man Coyote.



 


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Origin Of Tobacco

Once there was an Indian woman of powerful beauty. She gave birth to twin sons, but she did not know who their father was. The beautiful woman sang her sons to sleep with a heartbreaking lullaby, and everyone who heard it took pity on her. Finally, the Earth agreed to claim the first son, and the stars took the second son as one of their own. From then on, the people called them Earth boy and Star boy.

When the boys were near manhood. they began to behave a little differently from their friends. Earth boy stopped following the buffalo everywhere and began to stay close beneath the willows of home, searching for pretty rocks and carefully observing the slow growth of plants. Star boy also grew lax in his hunting. but rather then staying home he began to wander far beyond the buffalo. He slept during the day so that at night he could watch the travels of his star family.

One day Star boy's wanderings brought him to the foot of the highest mountain, No one had climbed it before, but Star boy started the slow climb without hesitating. Somewhere near the sky, Star boy fainted. A shinning silver man appeared to him.

The man was a star. He told Star boy that he was his father but that he spent his life traveling far beyond the earth, and said he would not pass near the mountain again in his son's lifetime.

"So to show my love and concern for you, my son, I will give you a gift of great strength and colors of the sunset. Keep this plant with you wherever you wander, and in the springtime plant it everywhere you go. Tend the beds and harvest them when they are tall." With these words, the star plunged his hands into his own silver chest. When he pulled them out again, they were full of tobacco.

he told Star boy that tobacco would make everyone in his family strong and free. To share the tobacco and it's power, people must be adopted into Star boy's family. Star boy listened carefully, but he was too overwhelmed to speak. he nodded his head gratefully, and his father burst away from him, back to the sky.

When Star boy came down from the mountains, he found his brother Earth boy, and offered to adopt him and share the tobacco.

Earth boy laughed, and said, "brother you don't need to climb mountains to have visions.

While you were gone, I met my father earth and he taught me some secrets of my own. Your family may become powerful wanders, but mine is gong to become a family of peaceful farmers.

We will grow everything except tobacco and you will grow nothing more."

"I don't want to grow anything more." said Star boy, "I will follow the buffalo, and bring strong as an eagle. and as free as the wind."

Earth boy smiled. "I will be strong as a rock, my brother," he said "and steady as the sunrise. But no matter how different our families become, we will never quarrel. Your father has given you tobacco, and mine has given me the way of the Medicine pipe, our fathers will give us peace and colors of the sunset."

Earth boy brought forward a beautiful pipe made from the rock and willow of his home. Star boy filled it with tobacco from the heart of the star. and the brothers smoked together.

When Star boy left, some of the people went with him, hoping to be adopted into his family. even before they learned the secrets of tobacco, the people who followed Star boy took a name, and called themselves the Crow.

The ones who stayed with Earth boy learned to farm and were called after the willows of their home.

And so the people were divided into tribes. but the power of the tobacco and the pipe kept them from becoming enemies.

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Digusenous Indian Lore:

 

The Story of Creation

When Tu-chai-pai made the world, the earth was the woman, the sky was the man. The sky came down upon the earth. The world in the beginning was a pure lake covered with tuples. Tu-chai-pai and his younger brother, Yo-ko-mat-is, sat together, stooping far over, bowed down by the weight of the sky. The Maker said to his brother, "What am I going to do?"

"I do not know," said Yo-ko-mat-is. "Let us go a little farther," said the Maker.

So they went a little farther and sat down to rest. "Now what am I going to do?" said Tu-chai-pai.

"I do not know, my brother."

All of this time the Maker knew what he was about to do, but he was asking his brother's help. Then he said, "We-hicht, we-hicht, we-hicht," three times. He took tobacco in his hand. and rubbed it fine and blew upon it three times. Every time he blew, the heavens rose higher above their heads.

Younger brother did the same thing because the Maker asked him to do it. The heavens went higher and higher and so did the sky. Then they did it both together, "We-hicht, we-hicht, we-hicht," and both took tobacco, rubbed it, and puffed hard upon it, sending the sky so high it formed a concave arch.

Then they placed North, South, East, and West. Tu-chai-pai made a line upon the ground.

"Why do you make that line?" asked younger brother.

"I am making the line from East to West and name them so. Now you make a line from North to South."

Yo-ko-mat-is thought very hard. How would he arrange it? Then he drew a cross line from top to bottom. He named the top line North, and the bottom line South. Then he asked, "Why are we doing this?"

The Maker said, "I will tell you. Three or four men are coming from the East, and from the West three or four Indians are coming."

The brother asked, "Do four men come from the North, and two or three men come from the South?"

Tu-chai-pai said, "Yes. Now I am going to make hills and valleys and little hollows of water."

"Why are you making all of these things?"

The Maker explained, "After a while when men come and are walking back and forth in the world, they will need to drink water or they will die." He had already made the ocean, but he needed little water places for the people.

Then he made the forests and said, "After a while men will die of cold unless I make wood for them to burn. What are we going to do now?"

"I do not know," replied younger brother.

"We are going to dig in the ground and find mud to make the first people, the Indians." So he dug in the ground and took mud to make the first men, and after that the first women. He made the men easily, but he had much trouble making women. It took him a long time.

After the Indians, he made the Mexicans and finished all his making. He then called out very loudly, "People, you can never die and you can never get tired, so you can walk all the time." But then he made them sleep at night, to keep them from walking in the darkness. At last he told them that they must travel toward the East, where the sun's light was coming out for the first time.

The Indians then came out and searched for the light, and at last they found light and were exceedingly glad to see the Sun. The Maker called out to his brother, "It's time to make the Moon. You call out and make the Moon to shine, as I have made the Sun. Sometime the Moon will die. When it grows smaller and smaller, men will know it is going to die, and they must run races to try and keep up with the dying moon."

The villagers talked about the matter and they understood their part and that Tu-chai-pai would be watching to see that they did what he wanted them to do. When the Maker completed all of this, he created nothing more. But he was always thinking how to make Earth and Sky better for all the Indians.

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Flathead Indian Lore:

 

Coyote and the Monsters of the Bitterroot Valley

After Coyote had killed the monster near the mouth of the Jocko River, he turned south and went up the Bitterroot Valley. Soon he saw two huge monsters, one at each end of a ridge. Coyote killed them, changed them into tall rocks, and said, "You will always be there."

There the tall rocks still stand.

Then he went on. Someone had told him about another monster, an Elk monster, up on a mountain to the east. Coyote said to his wife, Mole, "Dig a tunnel clear to the place where that monster is. Dig several holes in the tunnel. Then move our camp to the other side."

Coyote went through the tunnel Mole had made, got out of it, and saw the Elk monster. The monster was surprised to see him.

"How did you get here?" he asked. "Where did you come from?" The monster was scared.

"I came across the prairie," lied Coyote. "Don't you see my trail? You must be blind if you didn't see me."

The monster became more scared. He thought that Coyote must have greater powers than he himself had.

Coyote's dog was Pine Squirrel, and the Elk monster's dog was Grizzly Bear. Grizzly Bear growled at Pine Squirrel, and Pine Squirrel barked back.

"You'd better stop your dog," said the monster. "If you don't, he'll lose his head."

The dogs wanted to fight. Grizzly Bear jumped at Coyote's dog. Pine Squirrel went under him and killed him with the flint he wore on his head. The flint ripped Grizzly Bear. Bones and flesh flew everywhere.

"Look down there," said Coyote to the Elk monster. "See those people coming along that trail? Let's go after them."

He knew that what he saw was Mole moving their camp, but the monster could not see clearly in the tunnel. Elk monster picked up his shield, his spear, and his knife. "I'm ready," he said.

After they had gone a short distance along the trail, the monster fell into the first hole. Coyote called loudly, as if he were calling to an enemy ahead of them. The monster climbed out of the hole, tried to run, but fell into one hole after another. At last Coyote said to him, "Let me carry your shield. Then you can run faster."

Coyote put the shield on his back, but the monster still had trouble. "Let me carry your spear," Coyote said. Soon he got the monster's knife, also--and all of his equipment. Then Coyote ran round and round, shouting, "This is how we charge the enemy."

And he jabbed the monster with the monster's spear. "I have the enemy's warbonnet!" he yelled. He jabbed the monster four times, each time yelling that he had taken something from the enemy. The fifth time he jabbed the monster, he yelled, "I have stripped the enemy." Then he said to the Elk monster, "You can never kill anyone again."

Coyote went on up the Bitterroot Valley. He heard a baby crying, up on a hill. Coyote went up to the baby, not knowing it was a monster. He put his finger in the baby's mouth, to let it suck. The baby ate the flesh off Coyote's finger, then his hand, and then his arm. The monster baby killed Coyote. Only his skeleton was left.

After a while, Coyote's good friend Fox came along. Fox stepped over the dead body, and Coyote came to life. He began to stretch as if he had been asleep. "I've slept a long time," he said to Fox.

You've been dead," Fox told him. "That baby is a monster, and he killed you."

Coyote looked around, but the baby was gone. He put some flint on his finger and waited for the baby to come back. When he heard it crying, he called out, "Hello, baby! You must be hungry."

Coyote let it have his finger to suck. The baby cut himself and died.

"That's the last of you," said Coyote. "This hill will forever be called Sleeping Child."

And that is what the Indians call it today.

After Coyote had left Sleeping Child, Fox joined him again and they traveled together. Soon Coyote grew tired of carrying his blanket, and so he laid it on a rock. After they had traveled farther, they saw a storm coming. They went back to the rock, Coyote picked up his blanket, and the two friends moved on. When the rain began to fall, he put the blanket over himself and Fox. While lying there, covered by the blanket, they looked out and saw the rock running toward them.

Fox went uphill, but Coyote ran downhill. The rock followed close on Coyote's trail. Coyote crossed the river, sure that he was safe. Spreading his clothes out on a rock, he thought he would rest while they dried. But the rock followed him across the river. When he saw it coming out of the water, Coyote began to run. He saw three women sitting nearby, with stone hammers in their hands.

"If that rock comes here," Coyote said to the women, "you break it with your hammers."

But the rock got away from the women. Coyote ran on to where a creek comes down from the mountains near Darby. There he took some vines--Indians call them "monkey ropes"--and placed them so that the rock would get tangled up in them. He set fire to the monkey ropes. The rock got tangled in the burning ropes and was killed by the heat.

Then Coyote said to the rock, "The Indians will come through here on their way to the buffalo country. They will play with you. They will find you slick and heavy, and they will lift you up."

In my childhood, the rock was still there, but it is gone now, no one knows where.

Coyote left the dead rock and went on farther. Soon he saw a mountain sheep. The sheep insulted Coyote and made him angry. Coyote grabbed him and threw him against a pine tree. The body went clear through the tree, but the head stayed on it. The horns stuck out from the trunk of the tree.

Coyote said to the tree, "When people go by, they will talk to you. They will say, 'I want to have good luck. So I will leave a gift here for you.' They will leave gifts and you will make them lucky--in hunting or in war or in anything they wish to do."

The tree became well known as the Medicine Tree. People from several tribes left gifts in it when they passed on their way to the buffalo country that is on the rising-sun side of the mountains.

In my childhood, the skull and face were still there. When I was a young girl, people told me to put some of my hair inside the sheep horn, so that I would live a long time. I did. That's why I'm nearly ninety years old.

As the interpreter and I were leaving Painted-Hem- of-the-Skirt, she bent low and made a sweeping movement around her ankles and the hem of her long skirt. Then she said a few words and laughed heartily. The interpreter explained: "She says she hopes that she will not find a rattlesnake wrapped around her legs because she told some of the old stories in the summertime."

She had laughed often as she told the tales, but I feel sure that her mother would not have related them in the summertime. "It is good to tell stories in the wintertime," the Indians of the Northwest used to say. "There are long nights in the wintertime."

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Haida Indian Lore:

 

Origin Of The Gnawing Beaver

There was a great hunter among the people living at Larhwiyip on the Stikine River. Ever on the alert for new territories, he would go away by himself for long periods and return with quantities of furs and food.
He had remained single, although he was very wealthy and his family begged him to take a wife. As a true hunter, he observed all the fasts of cleanliness and kept away from women.

One day when he returned from a hunting trip, he said,
"I am going to take a wife now. After That I will move to a distant region where I hear that wild animals are plentiful."
So he married a young woman from a neighboring village who, like himself, was clever and scrupulous in observing the rules.

When the time came for them to go on their hunting trips, they both kept the fasts of purification, and the hunter got even more furs and food than he had before. Some time later, he said to his wife,
"Let's go to a new country, where we'll have to stay for a long time."

After many days of traveling, they came to a strange land. The hunter put up a hut, where they lived while he built a house. When he had finished it, he and his wife were happy. They would play with each other every night.
Soon he said to her, "I'm going to my new hunting grounds for two days and a night. I will return just before the second night."

In his new territory he made snares in his trap line, and when these were set, he went home just before sunset on the second day. His wife was very happy, and again they played together all through the night.

After several days, he visited the snares and found them full of game. He loaded his canoe and came back again before dark on the second day. Very happy, he met his wife, and they both worked to prepare the furs and meat.
When they had finished, he set out once more, saying,
"This time I intend to go in a new direction, so I will be away for three sleeps."
And he did, and rejoiced in being with his wife again when he returned.

To amuse herself when she was alone, the woman went down to the little stream flowing by the lodge. She spent most of her time bathing and swimming around in a small pool while her husband was away.

As soon as he returned, she would play with him. Now he said,
"Since you've become used to being alone, I'm going on a longer trip."
By then he had enlarged his hunting house, and it was full of furs and food.
The woman again took to her swimming. Soon she found the little pool too small for her, so she built a dam by piling up branches and mud. The pool became a small lake, deep enough for her to swim in at ease. Now she spent nearly all her time in the new lake and felt quite happy.

When her husband returned, she showed him the dam she had made, and he was pleased. Before going away once more, he said,
"I'll be gone a long time, now that I know you're not afraid of being alone."

The woman built a little house of mud and branches in the center of the lake. After a swim she would go into it and rest. At night she would return to the hunting house on land, but as soon as she waked in the morning, she would go down to the lake again.
Eventually she slept in her lake lodge all night, and when her husband came back, she felt uncomfortable staying with him at the house.

Now she was pregnant and kept more to herself, and she preferred to stay in her lake lodge even when her husband was at home. To pass the time, she enlarged the lake by building the dam higher. She made another dam downstream, and then another, until she had a number of small lakes all connected to the large one in which she had her lodge.

The hunter went away on a last long journey. He had enough furs and food to make him very wealthy, and he planned that they would move back to his village after this trip.
The woman, whose child was due any day, stayed in the water all the time and lived altogether in the lodge. By now it was partly submerged, and it's entrance was under water.

When the hunter returned this time, he could not find his wife. He looked all over, searching the woods day after day without discovering a trace of her. He was at a loss, unwilling to go back to his people without knowing her fate, for fear that her family might want to kill him. He returned sadly to his hunting house every night and each morning resumed the search.

One evening at dusk, he remembered that his wife had spent much of her time in the water.
"Perhaps she traveled on downstream," he thought.

The next day he walked down to the lake that his wife had dammed and went around it, but he saw nothing of her.
After many days of searching, the hunter retraced his steps. When he came to the large lake, he sat down and began to sing a dirge. Now he knew that something had happened to his wife; she had been taken by a supernatural power.
While he was singing and crying his dirge, a figure emerged from the lake. It was a strange animal, in its mouth a stick which it was gnawing. On each side of the animal were two smaller ones, also gnawing sticks.

Then the largest figure, which wore a hat shaped like a gnawed stick, spoke.
"Don't be sad! It is I, your wife, and your two children. We have returned to our home in the water. Now that you have seen me, you will use me as a crest. Call me the Woman-Beaver, and the crest Remnants-of-Chewing-Stick. The children are First Beaver, and you will refer to them in your dirge as the Offspring of Woman-Beaver."

After she had spoken, she disappeared into the waters, and the hunter saw her no more. At once he packed his goods, and when his canoe was filled, traveled down the river to his village.
For a long while he did not speak to his people. Then he told them what had happened and said,
"I will take this as my personal crest. It shall be known as Remnants-of-Chewing-Stick, and forever remain the property of our clan, the Salmon-Eater household."

This is the origin of the Beaver crest and the Remnants-of-Chewing-Stick.



 


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The Bear And His Indian Wife

Quiss-an-kweedass and Kind-a-wuss were a youth and maiden in my native village, she the daughter of one of our chiefs, he the son of one of the common people.
Since both were about the same age and had been playmates from youth, their fondness in later years ripened into a love so strong that they seemed to live for each other.
But while they loved each other, they knew that they could never live as husband and wife, because both were of one crest, the Raven.

By the social laws of the Haidas a mother gives her name and crest to her children, whether Raven, Eagle, Frog, Beaver, or Bear. A man is at liberty to take a wife from any other crest except the one to which he himself belongs.

While the youth and maiden continued to love each other, time passed unnoticed. Life to them seemed a pleasing dream - from which they were awakened when both sets of parents reminded them that the time had come for each to marry someone else.
Seeing that these admonitions passed unheeded, their parents resolved to separate them. The lovers were confined in their homes, but they contrived to slip away and meet outside the village.
They escaped to the woods, resolved to live on the meanest fare in the mountain forests rather than return to be separated.

In a lonely glen under a shady spruce by a mountain stream, they built a hut, to which they always returned at night. While wandering in search of food they were careful lest they should meet any of their relations.

Thus they lived until the lengthening nights and stormy days reminded them of winter. Quiss-an-kweedass resolved to revisit his home, and to make the journey alone. Kind-a-wuss preferred to remain in the solitude of the forest rather than face her angry relations.
He promised, however, to return before nightfall of the fourth day.

When he reached home, his parents welcomed him and asked about Kind- a-wuss and her whereabouts since they departed. He told them all, and when they heard how they lived, and how she had become his wife, their wrath was great.
They told him that he would never go back, and they decided to keep him prisoner until she also returned.

When Quiss-an-kweedass could not get away, he urged his people to let him go and get Kind-a-wuss, for she would never return alone. They were unmoved by his appeal.

After a considerable time, he managed to escape. He hastened to his mountain home, hoping to meet Kind-a-wuss, yet fearing that something might be wrong.
When he arrived at the place where they had parted, he found by the footprints on the soft earth that she had started to return to their hut. Drawing near it, he listened but heard no sound and saw no trace of her.
When he went inside, he was horror-stricken to find that she had not been there since he left. Where was she? Had she lost her way?

Hoping to find some clue, he searched the hut, looked up and down the stream, went through the timber up to the mountains, calling her by name as he went along:
"Kind-a-wuss, Kind-a-wuss, where are you? Kind-a-wuss, come to me; I am your own Quiss-an-kweedass. Do you hear me, Kind-a-wuss?"
To these appeals the mountain echoes answered, Kind-a-wuss.

After searching for days, feeling sorrowful and angry, he turned homeward, grieving for the dear one whom he had lost, and angry with his parents, whom he blamed for his misfortune.

Once there, he told the villagers of his trouble and claimed their assistance. Many responded, among them the two fathers, one anxious for his daughter's safety, the other disturbed because he had detained his son.

Early on the morning of the third day after Quiss-an-kweedass arrived, he led a party out for a final search to try and find her, dead or alive. But after ten days, during which they discovered nothing except a place where traces of a struggle were visible, they abandoned the effort.


As weeks gave place to months and months to years, Kind-a-wuss seemed to have been forgotten. She was seldom mentioned, or was referred to only as the girl who was lost and never found. Yet her lover never forgot; he believed her still alive and did all in his power to find her. Having failed so often, he thought he would visit a medicine man, or *skaga*, who was clairvoyant.

The *skaga* asked Quiss-an-kweedass if he had anything that the maiden had worn. He gave a part of her clothing to the *skaga*, who took it in his hand and said:
"I see a young woman lying on the ground; she seems to be asleep. It is Kind-a-wuss. There is something in the bushes, coming toward her. It is a large bear. He takes hold of her; she tries to get away but cannot. He takes her with him, a long way off. I see a lake. They reach it and stop at a large cedar tree. She lives in the tree with the bear. I see two children, boys, that she has had by the bear. If you go to the lake and find the tree, you will discover them all there."

Quiss-an-kweedasslost no time in getting together a second party led by the *skaga*, who soon found the lake and then the tree. There they halted to consider what it was best to do. It was agreed that Quiss- an-kweedass should call her by name before venturing up a sort of stepladder which leaned against the tree. After he called her several times, she looked out and said:
"Where do you come from? And who are you?"
"I am Quiss-an-kweedass," said he. "I have sought long years for you. Now that I have found you, I mean to take you home. Will you go?"
"I cannot go with you until my husband, the chief of bears, returns."

After a little conversation, she consented to come down among them; and when they had her in their power, they hastily carried her off home.

Her parents were glad to have their lost child, and Quiss-an- kweedass was overjoyed to recover his loved one. Although she was at home and kindly welcomed, she was worried for her two sons and wished to return for them.
This her friends would not allow, though they offered to go and fetch them. She replied that their father would not let them go.
"But," said she, "there is a way you might get them."

She explained that the bear had made up a song for her, and if they would go to the tree and sing it, the bear chief would give them whatever they wished.

After learning the song, a party went to the tree and began to sing. As soon as the bear heard the song he came down, thinking that Kind-a- wuss had returned. When he saw that she was not there, he was upset and refused to let the children go. When the party threatened to take them by force, however, he agreed to send them to their mother.

Kind-a-wuss told the following story of how she had fallen into the power of the bear. After she had parted from Quiss-an-kweedass and turned back toward the hut, she had not gone far before she felt tired and sick at heart for her lover.
Deciding to rest a little, she lay down in a dry, shady place and fell asleep. There the bear found her, took her and carried her to his home near the lake.
As the entrance to his house was high above the ground, he had a sort of stepladder whereby he could get easily up and down. He sent some of his tribe to gather soft moss to make her a bed.

She used to wonder why no one came to look for her; and when the bear saw her downhearted, he would do all in his power to cheer her up.
As the years passed and none of her relations nor her lover came near her, she began to feel at home in the bears' tree house. By the time the search party arrived, she had given up all hope of being found.
The bear tried to make her comfortable and please her. He composed a song which to this day is known among the children of the Haidas as the Song of the Bears. I have heard it sung many times.
In 1888 an old acquaintance gave me the words:

I have taken a fair maid from her Haida friends as my wife.
I hope her relatives won't come and carry her away from me.
I will be kind to her.
I will give her berries from the hill and roots from the ground.
I will do all I can to please her.
For her I made this song, and for her I sing it.

This is the Song of the Bears, and whoever can sing it has their lasting friendship. Many people learned it from Kind-a-wuss, who never went again to live with the bear. Out of consideration for her, as well as for the hardships that the lovers had suffered, they were allowed to live as man and wife.

As for the two sons, Soo-gaot and Cun-what, they showed different dispositions as they grew up. Soo-gaot stayed with his mother's people, while the other returned to his father and lived and died among the bears.
Soo-gaot, marrying a girl belonging to his parental tribe, reared a family from whom many of his people claim to be descended.
The direct descendant of Soo-gaotis a pretty girl, the offspring of a Haida mother and Kanaku father, who inherits all the family belongings, the savings of many generations.

The small brook which flowed by the mountain home of Quiss-an-kweedass and Kind-a- wuss grew to be a large stream, up which large quantities of salmon run in season. That stream is in the family to this day, and out of it they catch their food.



 


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Wolf And The Sea

Once a man found two wolf pups on the beach, he took them to his home and raised them.

When the pups had grown, they would swim out in to the ocean, kill a whale, and bring it to shore for the man to eat.

Each day they did this, soon there was too much meat to eat and it began to spoil.

When the Great Above Person saw this waste he made a fog and the wolves could not find whales to kill nor find they way back to shore.

They had to remain at sea, those wolves became sea wolves (Orca).




 

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Master-Carpenter And South-East

A Haida myth relates how Master-Carpenter, a supernatural being, went to war with South-East (the south-east wind) at Squ-i, the town lying farthest south on Queen Charlotte Islands. The south-east wind is paticularly rude and boisterous on that coast. and it was with the intention of punishing him for his violence that Master-Carpenter challenged him.

First of all however, he set about building a canoe for himself. The first one he made split, and he was obliged to throw it away. The second also split, notwithstanding the fact that he had made it stouter then the first one. Another and another he built making each stronger than the last, but every attempt ended in failure, and at last, exceedingly vexed at this unskillfulness, he was at the point of giving up. He would have done so, but for the intervention of the Greatest Fool. Hitherto Master-Carpenter had been trying to two canoes from one log by means of wedges.

Greatest Fool stood and watched him for a time, amused at his clumsiness, and finally showed him that he ought to use bent wedges. And though he was perhaps the last person from whom Master-Carpenter might expect to learn anything, the unsuccessful builder adopted the suggestion, with a happy result. When he was satisfied that he had made a good canoe he let it down into the water, and sailed off in search of South-East.

He floated right down to his enemy's abode, and when he judged himself to be above it he rose in the canoe and flung out a challenge. There was no reply. So again he called out, and this time a rapid current began to float past him, bearing on it's surface a quantity of seaweed. The shrewd Master-Carpenter saw the matted hair of his enemy floating among of it. He seized hold of the hair and up came South-East. The latter in a great voice began to call his nephews to help him. The first to be summoned was Red-Storm-Cloud. Immediately a deep red suffused the sky. Then the stormy tints died away, and the wind rose with a harsh murmur.

When this wind had reached it's full strength another was summoned, Taker-Off-Of-Tree-Tops. The blast increased to a hurricane, and the tree-tops were blown off and carried away and fell thickly about the canoe, where Master-Carpenter was making use of his magic arts to protect himself. Again another wind was called up. Pebble-Rattle. who set the stones and sand flying about as he shrieked in answer to the summons.

Maker-Of-The-Thick-Sea-Mist came next, the spirit of fog which strikes terror into the hearts of those at sea, and he was followed by a numerous band of other nephews, each one more dreaded than the last. Finally Tidal-Wave came and covered Master-Carpenter with water, so that he was obliged to give in. Relinquishing his hold on South-East, he managed to struggle to the shore. It was said by some that South-East died, but the shamans, who ought to know, say that he returned to his own place.

South-Easts' mother was named Tomorrow, and the Indians say that if they utter that word they will have bad weather, for South-East does not like to hear his mother's name used by anyone else.

 

 

 

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