Smokyriversongs' Look At Indian Life And The Lore
Pauit - Quinault


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Paiute Indian Lore:


Why North Star Stands Still

Long, long ago, when the world was young the people of the sky were

restless and traveled so much that they made trails in the heavens. Now, if we watch the sky all through the night, we can see which way they go.

But one star does not travel. That is the North Star. He can not travel. He can not move. When he was on the earth long, long, ago, he was known as Na-gah, the mountain sheep, the son of Shinoh. He was brave, daring, sure footed, and courageous. his father was proud of him and loved him so much that he

put large earrings on the sides of his head and made him look dignified, important, and commanding.
Every day Na-gah was climbing, climbing, climbing. He hunted for the roughest and the highest mountains, climbed them, lived among them, and was happy. Once in the very long ago, he found a very high peak reaching up into the clouds. Na-gah looked up and said, "I wonder what is up there. I will

climb to the very highest point."

Around and around the mountain he traveled, looking for a trail. But he could find no trial. There was nothing but sheer cliffs all the way around, This was the first mountain Na-gah had ever seen that he could not climb.

He wondered and wondered what he do. He felt sure that his father would feel ashamed of him if he knew that there was a mountain that his son could not climb. Na-gah determined that he would find a way up to it's top. His father would be proud to see him standing on the top of such a peak.

Again and again he walked around the mountain, stopping now and then to peer up the steep cliff, hoping to see a crevice on which he could find footing. Again and again he went up as far as he could, but always had to turn around and come down. At last he found a big crack in a rock that went down not up. Down he went into it and soon found a hole that turned upward. His heart was made glad. Up and up he climbed.

Soon it became so dark that he could not see, and the cave was full of loose rocks that slipped under his feet and rolled down. Soon he heard a big, fearsome noise coming up through the shaft at the same time the rolling rocks were dashed to pieces at the bottom. In the darkness he slipped often and skinned his knees. His courage and determination began to fail. He had never before see a place so dark and dangerous. He was afraid, and he was also very tired.

"I will go back and look again for a better place to climb," he said to himself. " I am not afraid out on the open cliffs, but this dark hole fills me with fear. I'm scared! I want to get out of here!"

But when Na-gah turned to go down, he found that the rolling rocks had closed the cave below him. He could not get down. He saw only one thing now that he could do: He must go on climbing until he came out somewhere.

After a long climb, he saw a little light, and knew that he was coming out of the hole. " Now I am happy," he said aloud. " I am glad that I really came up through that dark hole."

Looking around him, he became almost breathless, for he found that he was on the top of a very high peak! There was scarcely room for him to turn around, and looking down from this height made him dizzy. He saw great cliffs below him, in every direction, and saw only a small place in which he could move.

Nowhere on the outside could he get down, and the cave was closed on the inside..,

" Here I must stay until I die," he said. " But I have climb my mountain! I have climbed my mountain at last!"

He ate a little grass and drank a little water that he found in the holes in the

rocks. Then he felt better. He was higher than any mountain he could see and he could look down on the earth, far below him.

About this time, his father was out walking over the sky. He looked everywhere for his son, but could not find him. He called " Na-gah! Na-gah!" And his son answered him from the top of the highest cliffs. When Shinoh saw him there, he felt sorrowful, to himself, " My brave son can never come down.

Always he must stay on the top of the highest mountain. He can travel and climb no more."

" I will not let my brave son die. I will turn him into a star, and he can stand there and shine where everyone can see him. He shall be a guide mark for all the living things on earth or in the sky."

And so Na-gah became a star that every living thing can see. It is the only star that will always be found at the same place. Always he stands still. Directions are set by him. Travelers, looking up at him, can always find their way. He does not move around as the others stars do, and so he is called " the Fixed Star." And because he is in the true north all the time, our people call him Qui-am-i Wintook Poote-see. these words mean " the North Star."

Besides Na-gah, other mountain sheep are in the sky. They are called "Big Dipper" and " Little Dipper." they too have found great mountain and have been challenged by it. They have seen Na-gah standing on it's top, and they want to go on up to him.

Shinoh, the father of North Star, turned them into stars, and you may see them in the sky at the foot of the mountain. Always they are traveling. They go around and around the mountain, seeking the trail that leads to Na-gah, who stands on the top. He is still the North Star.


Passamaquoddy Indian Lore:


The Origin Of The Medicine Man

The Medicine Man is Glooscap, the Good-Spirit. Legend has it that the father of Glooscap is a being who lives under a great waterfall beneath the earth. His face is half-red, and he has a single all- seeing eye. He can give to anyone coming to him the medicine he desires. Glooscap is still busy sharpening his arrows off in a distant place, preparing sometime to return to earth and make war.

Passamaquoddy tell all of their old stories as truth. But of other stories, they speak of them as "what they hear," or hearsay.

This is a legend of long, long ago about a Passamaquoddy Indian woman who traveled constantly back and forth and through the woods. From every bush

she came to, she bit off a twig, and from one of these she became pregnant. Bigger and bigger she grew, until at last she could not travel, but she built a wigwam near the mouth of a fresh-running stream.

In the night, the woman gave birth to a child. She thought at first that she

should kill the child. Finally, she decided to make a bark canoe in which she placed her child. She set it adrift and let it float down the stream. Though the water was rough in places, the child was not harmed, or even wet.

The canoe floated to an Indian village, where it became stranded on the sandy shore near a group of wigwam. One of the women found the baby and brought

it to her home. Every morning thereafter, it seemed that a baby of the village died. The villagers did not know what was the matter with their babies.

A neighbor noticed how the rescued child toddled off to the river every night and returned shortly after. She wondered if this could have anything to do with the death of so many babies. Then she saw the child return to its wigwam with

a small tongue, roast it, and eat it. Then it lay down to sleep all night.

On the next morning, a report circulated that another child had died. Then the Indian woman was certain she knew who the killer was. She alerted the parents of the dead child and found that the child's tongue had been removed, and the child had bled to death.

Tribal deliberations were held to decide what should be done with the murderer. Some said, cut up the person and throw him into the river. Others said, burn the fragments; this they did after much consultation. They burned the fragments of the wayward child, until nothing but its ashes remained.

Naturally, everyone understood the child was dead. But that night it came back to camp again with a small tongue, which it roasted and ate. The next morning another child was found to have died in the night. The weird child was found sleeping in its usual place, just as before its cremation. He said to everyone that he would never kill any more children, and that now he had become a big boy, in fact.

The big boy announced he would take one of his bones out of his side. This he started to do, and all of his bones spilled out of his body at the same time. He closed his eyes by drawing his fingers over his eyelids, hiding his eyes. He could not move without bones and he began to grow very fat.

He surprised the Passamaquoddy by becoming a great Medicine Man. Anything they desired within reason, he granted. Later, however, his tribe moved away from their old camp. Before they left, they built a fine wigwam for the Medicine Man. So accustomed had they become to call upon his powers that they still returned to make their requests. His tribal members asked him for medicine of all kinds. When he granted their wishes, he asked them, "Turn me

over and you will find your medicine beneath me."

A young man came and wished to have the love of a woman, so he asked for a love potion. The Medicine Man said, "Turn me over." The young man turned over the conjurer and found an herb. "You must not give this away or throw it away," said the old man. The young Passamaquoddy went back to his own wigwam.

Soon he was aware that all the young women followed him in the camp, at all times. In fact, he longed to be alone for a change. He did not like to be chased by the women. At last when he became too troubled by the tribal women, he returned to the Medicine Man and gave back the herbal love portion. The young Passamaquoddy left without it.

Another young man went to the conjurer for help. The Medicine Man asked, "What is it you want?" This man said, "I want to live as long as the world shall stand."

"Your request is a hard one to consider, but I will do my best to answer it," replied the Medicine Man. "Now turn me over," and underneath his body was an herb. He said, "Go to a place that is bare of everything, so bare it is destitute of all vegetation, and just stand there." The Medicine Man pointed out this direction for the young man.

The young man went according to the Medicine Man's instructions, but looking back at the conjurer, the standing man saw branches and twigs sprouting all over his own body. He had been changed into a cedar tree, to stand there forever--useless to everyone.



The Origin Of The Thunderbird

This is a ledge of long, long ago times. Two Indians desired to find the origin of the thunder. They traveled north and came to a high mountain. These mountains performed magically. They drew apart, back and forth, then closed together very quickly.

One Indian said, "I will leap through the cleft before it closes. If I am caught, you continue to find the origin of thunder." The first one succeeded in going through the cleft before it closed, but the second one was caught and squashed.

On the other side, the first Indian saw a large plain with a group of lodges and a number of Indians playing a ball game. After a little while, these players said to each other, "it is time to go." They disappeared into tier lodges to put on wings, and came out with their bows and arrows and flew away over the mountains to the south. This was how the Passamaquoddy Indian discovered the homes of the thunderbird.

the remaining old men asked the Passamaquoddy Indian, "What do you want? Who are you?" he replied with the story of his mission. The old men deliberated how they could help him.

They decided to put the lone Indian into a large mortar, and they pounded him until all of his bones were broken. They moulded him into a new body with wings like a thunderbird, and gave him a bow and some arrows and sent him away in flight. They warned him not to fly close to trees, as he would fly so fast he could not stop in time to avoid them, and he would be killed.

The lone Indian could not reach his home because the huge enemy bird, Wochowsen, at that time made such a damaging wind. Thunderbird is an Indian and he or his lightning would never harm another Indian. But Wochowen, great bird from the south, tried hard to rival Thunderbird. So the Passamaquoddy feared Wochowsen, whose wings Glooscap once had broken, because he used too much power.

A result was that for a long time air became stagnant, the sea was full of slime, and all of the fish died. But Glooscap saw what was happening to his people and repaired the wings of winds with calm.

Legend tells us this is how the new Passamaquoddy thunderbird, the lone Indian who passed through the cleft, in time became the great and powerful Thunderbird, who always has kept a watchful eye upon the good Indians.










The Owl Husband

In many tribes the owl has a sinister meaning. In the Northwest the owl calls out the names of men and women who will die soon. Among the Sioux, Hin-Han the owl guards the entrance to the Milky Way over which the souls of the dead must pass to reach the spirit land. Those who fail the owl's inspection because they do not have the proper tattoo on their wrists or elsewhere are thrown into the bottomless abyss. Among some nations, on the other hand, the owl is a wise and friendly spirit, an advisor and warning giver. A Passamaquoddy tale depicts the owl as having love medicine and a magic love flute--powers that the Plains people attribute to the elk.

A man and his wife lived at the edge of their village near a stream. They had a beautiful daughter whom many young men wished to marry, but she was proud, no suitor pleased her. Her father, caught between his daughter's haughtiness and the rejected suitor's anger, hoped to appease both by promising to give his daughter to the man who could make the embers of his hearth blaze up by spitting on it. Naturally, since spitting tends to put a fire out rather than kindle it, none of the young men succeeded.

There lived in the village an old woman whom many suspected of possessing evil powers, and their suspicions were well grounded. In reality she was an owl in disguise, and her nephew the great horned owl, ruled the whole tribe of these bad and scheming birds. Because he wanted the haughty girl for his wife, he assumed the shape of a good-looking young hunter and went to his aunt for help. "Here," she said, and gave him a magic potion to drink. "This will enable you to fulfill that old man's condition.

The handsome young hunter went at once to the lodge where the girl lived. He found her father entertaining the tribal elders, among them the chief of the village.

"Old man," said the owl in disguise, "is it true that you will give me your daughter if I can make our fire blaze up by spitting on these hot ashes?"

"Certainly, young man," said the father, "if you can do that, I will indeed let you have her." The suitor spit on the glowing embers, which immediately blazed into a mighty flame reaching to the ceiling of the lodge, shooting up through the smoke hole, thrusting far into the sky. Since the girl could not refuse after her father had made his promise in front of the elders and the chief, the hunter seized her by the hand and took her with him to his lodge.

There her owl husband spread out soft bear robes for her and did all a young bridegroom shroud do for a beloved wife. When the girl woke after her first night as a married woman, she gaze at her sleeping husband and discovered something awful. His ears stuck up from his long, thick black hair, and his yellowish eyes which he kept half open even in sleep, had pupils that contracted at intervals into narrow slits. The girl sat for a long time petrified with fear, because now she knew that the handsome young hunter was the terrible great horned owl himself.

The spell was broken when the husband's aunt entered and nudged the girl. "What's the matter?" she asked. "Why are you sitting there staring at him like this?" Then the girl let out a piercing scream and fled.

The whole village tried to console the young woman for the shocking trick that had been played upon her. The great horned owl left the neighborhood, because everybody knew who he really was. However, he still hoped to regain his beautiful wife by tricking her a second time.

The owl chief waited a while for the villagers to forget their fear and suspection Then he changed himself once more into a young man, also good-looking, but very different in appearance from his former disguise. He killed a moose and an elk, dragged the meat to the village, and announced to the people: "I have come as a friend from another camp nearby. I belong to your people and speak the same language, and I want to live among you. I am a great hunter and a generous man. I am putting up a lodge, and I have much meat, so I invite everybody to a feast."

At first the haughty young woman and her parents were suspicious and did not want to accept the invitation. But all the people said: "Why, he's just a good-natured stranger. It would be impolite not to go." So they went.

While the villagers were feasting, the newcomer said: "Let's tell stories. Has anybody had something strange, remarkable, or funny happen to him?" When it was the proud girl's turn, she looked straight at the host and said: "My story must be told in a whisper, so in order to hear it, you must all put your hair back and uncover your ears." The guest smiled and did as she said, but the host did not. "My hearing is keen," he told her. "I can understand a whisper at a great distance. I don't need to uncover my ears."

But everyone laughed and called: "Uncover them! Uncover them!"

"I'm your host," he replied. "You're being rude and impolite. Stop making all that noise!"

But they cried even louder: "Uncover them! Uncover them!"

At his the host grew very angry and shouted: "All right! Here, look!" Throwing back his hair, he uncovered ears that were standing up like horns. With cries of terror, the guests rushed out of the lodge.

The great horned owl's aunt was as angry as he. "This young wife of yours is far too clever," she told him. "We must make something to outwit her." Having the power of a great sorceress, she created a magic flute that would lure any girl into the arms of the man who played it. "With this, nephew," she said, "she won't be able to stop herself from coming to you."

The great horned owl, again disguised as a man, tried to carry out his aunt's scheme. But the haughty young woman and her parents were now so wary that they had put their lodge right in the center of the village and never strayed far. The weeks went by as he waited for his opportunity, and still the horned owl could not manage to come near his wife.

At last one day this proud girl said to herself: "It's been so long that the great horned owl has surely forgotten about me. He has given up, while my fear of him is still imprisoning me. It's time for me to go out and walk in the woods, the way I used to do."

In a bad mood, the great horned owl was sitting high in a crotch of a huge tree. "I'm wasting my time," he thought. "My wife is so afraid of me that she stays in the middle of the village. It's hopeless; I must stop thinking about her." Brooding, he saw someone coming through the woods. With his sharp owl's eyes he recognized her, though he could hardly believe it. his heart began to beat very fast.

The proud girl came right to the foot of the big tree. Unaware of her husband's presence, she sat down and said to herself, "How good to be out in the forest again without feeling afraid. How I enjoy this!" Then she heard some sweet sounds that soon formed into a wonderful song--magical, alluring, bewitching. She abandoned herself to the sound of the flute. "I could never resist the player who makes this wonderful music," she thought.

Then the Great Horned Owl swooped softly down upon her, seizing her gently in his huge talons, carrying her off to the village of owls. There lived as man and wife, and the haughty girl eventually became used to being married to the great horned owl.


Pawnee Indian Lore:


A Cheyenne Blanket

The Cheyennes, like other Indians, don't speak to each other when they are away from the camp.

If an Indian leaves the village and sits or stands by himself on top of a hill, it is a sign that he wants to be left alone, perhaps to meditate or pray. No one speaks to him or goes near him.

There was once a Pawnee boy who went off on the warpath to the Cheyenne camp. Some how he obtained a Cheyenne blanket. he came close to the camp, hid himself and waited. About the middle of the afternoon he left his hiding place and walked to the top of the hill overlooking the village. he had his Cheyenne blanket wrapped around him and over his head, with only a little hole for eyes. He stood quietly watching the camp for an hour or two.

men started coming in from buffalo hunting, some of them leading pack horses loaded with meat.

One hunter was riding a horse packed with meat while leading another pack horse and a black spotted horse that was his running horse/ Running horses are ridden only on the chase or on the war parties, and after being used they are taken down to the river to be carefully washed and groomed. When the Pawnee boy saw the spotted horse, he knew that this was the one he wanted. The hunter led the animal to his lodge, dismounted and handed the ropes to his wife, and went inside.

When the Pawnee made up his mind what he would do. He started down the hill into the village and went straight to the lodge where the women were unloading the meat. Walking up to them, he reached out and took the ropes of the spotted horse and one of the pack horses. The women fell back doubtless thinking that he was one of the owner's relatives come to take the running horse down to the river. The Pawnee could not speak Cheyenne, but as he turned away he mumbled in a low voice, and walked toward the river. As soon as he had gone down over the bank and out of sight, he jumped on the spotted horse, rode into the brush, and soon was away with the two animals. Stolen out of the Cheyenne camp in broad daylight.








The Big Turtle's War Party

A turtle went on the warpath, and as he went along, he met Coyote, who said: "And where are you going Grandson?" The turtle said: "I am on the warpath." Coyote said: "Where are you going?" "I am going to a camp where there are many people," said the turtle. "Let me see you run," the turtle said. Coyote ran. The turtle said: "You cannot run fast; I do not want you."

The turtle went on, and he met a fox. "Well, brother," said the fox, "where are you going?" said the fox. "I am going where there are many people," said the turtle. "Can I go with you?" said the fox. The turtle said: "Let me see your run." The fox ran, and he went so fast that the turtle could hardly see him. The turtle said: "You cannot run fast; I do not want you."

The turtle then went on, and a hawk flew by him, and the hawk heard the turtle say: "I am on the warpath; I am looking for people to join me." The hawk said: "Brother, what did you say?" "I am on the warpath," said the turtle. "Can I join you?" said the hawk. "Let me see you fly your best," said the turtle. The hawk flew so fast that the turtle could not see him for a while. When the hawk came back, the turtle said: "You cannot fly fast; I do not want you."

Again the turtle went on, and kept crying: "I am on the warpath; I am looking for people to join me." A rabbit jumped up and said: "Can I go along?" Let me see you run," said the turtle. The rabbit ran, and ran fast. The turtle said: "You cannot run fast; I do not want you."

The turtle went on saying: "I am looking for people to join me." Up jumped a flint knife and said: "Brother, can I join you?" "You may if you can run fast," said the turtle; "let me see you run." The knife tried to run, and could not. "You will do," said the turtle; "come with me."

They went on, and the turtle was saying: "I am looking for people to go on the warpath with me." Up jumped a hairbrush. "What did you say?" said the brush. "I am on the warpath," said the turtle. "Can I go along?" said the brush. The turtle said: "Let me see you run." The brush tried to run, but could not. The turtle said: "You will do; come with us."

They went on, and the turtle was saying: "I am on the warpath; I am looking for people to join me." Up jumped an awl, and it said: "Can I join you?" The turtle said: "Let me see you run." The awl tried to run, but could not. "You will do," said the turtle; "come with us."

So the four went on, and they came to a big camp, and the turtle sent the knife into the camp. The knife went into camp, and one man found it, took it home, and while trying to cut meat the man cut his fingers, and threw the knife at the doorway. The knife went back to the turtle and said: "I was picked up, and while the man was trying to cut meat, I cut his hand and he threw me at he doorway, so I came back."

The turtle said: "Very well. Now Brush, you go and see what you can do." So the brush went into camp, and a young girl picked it up and commenced to brush her hair. The brush pulled the girls hair our, so that the girl threw the brush at the doorway, and it came back. It said: "Brother Turtle, there is a young girl who has lovely hair. She used me on her head, and I pulled her hair, so she threw me away. See I have her hair here." "Well done," said the turtle.

"Now, Awl, go and be brave," said the turtle. He awl went into camp, and an old woman picked it up. She began to sew her moccasins, and all at once she stuck the awl in one of her fingers. The woman threw it away, and it came back and said: "Brother Turtle, I hurt a woman badly. She was using me while she was sewing her moccasins, and I stuck one of her fingers, she threw me away." "Well done, brothers, now it is my turn." said the turtle.

The turtle went into camp, and the people saw him and said, "What does this mean? Look at Turtle; he is on the warpath. Let us kill him." So they took him, and the people said: "Let us spread hot coals and put him in there." "All right," said the turtle, "that will suit me for I will spread out my legs and burn some of you. People said: "True let us then put a kettle over the fire, and when the water boils let us put him in." The turtle said: "Good! Put me in, and I will scald some of you." People said: "True! Let us throw him into the stream." The turtle said: "No, do not do that. I am afraid, I am afraid! Do not throw me in the water!" So the people threw the turtle in the water. The turtle came up to the surface and said: "I am a cheat. Heyru! Heyru!" poking his tongue out.

The people picked up the knife, awl and brush and used them. The turtle stayed in the water, and every time the people went to the water, Turtle would say: "I cheated you; water is my home." People would throw stones at it, and it would dive.



The Girl Who Was The Ring

By the bank of a river stood a lodge, in which lived four brothers and their sister. The boys made arrows. To the branch of a tree in front of the lodge they had hung a rawhide strap, such as women use for carrying wood, so as to make a swing for the girl.

Whenever their meat was all gone and they began to get hungry, The girl used to send her brothers into the timber to cut dogwood shoots to make arrows. When the arrows were ready, she would get into the swing and the boys would swing her. As the swing moved, they would see dust rising all around the horizon, and would know that the Buffalo were coming.

Then all four boys would take their bows and arrows, and stand about the swing so as to protect the girl and not let the Buffalo come near her. When the Buffalo had come close, the boys would kill them in a circle all about the swing. They would quickly carry the girl into the lodge, and would kill so many Buffalo that the rest would be frightened and run away. So they would have plenty to eat, and the dried meat would be piled high in the lodge.

One day the boys went out to get wood for arrows, and left the girl in the lodge alone. While they were away a Coyote came to the lodge and talked to the girl. He said to her: "Granddaughter, I am very poor, and I am very hungry. I have no meat in my lodge, and my children also are hungry. I told my relations that I was coming to ask you for food, and they have been laughing at me. They said, 'Your granddaughter will not give you anything to eat.' "

The girl answered him: "Grandfather, here is plenty of meat. This house is full of it. Take what you want. Take the fattest pieces. Take it to your children. Let them eat."

The Coyote began to cry. He said: "Yes, my relations laughed at me when I said I was going to visit you and ask you for something to eat. They said you would not give me anything. I do not want any dried meat -- I want some fresh meat to take to my children. Have pity on me, and let me put you in the swing, so as to bring the Buffalo. I do not want to swing you hard so as to bring the Buffalo in great herds. I want to swing you only a little so as to bring a few Buffalo. I have a quiver full of arrows to keep the Buffalo off."

The girl said: "No, grandfather, I cannot do this. My brothers are away. Without them we can do nothing."

Then the Coyote slapped his breast and said: "Look at me. Am I not a man and strong? I can run around you fast, after you are in the swing, and I can keep the Buffalo off. I can shoot clear through a Buffalo. I have plenty of arrows, and I need only use a single one for each Buffalo. Come on, I want to swing you just a little, so that but few Buffalo will come." So he coaxed the girl, but still she refused.

After he had begged her for a long time, she agreed to let him swing her a little, and got in the swing. He began to swing her, at first gently, but all at once he pushed her very hard, and kept doing this until she swung high. She screamed and cried, and tried to get off the swing, but it was now too late. All around -- from all sides -- the Buffalo were coming in great crowds. The Coyote had made ready his arrows, and was running around the girl, trying to kill the Buffalo and keep them off, but they crowded upon him -- so many that he could do nothing -- and at last he got frightened and ran into the lodge. The Buffalo were now just all over the ground about the lodge, and suddenly one of the young Bulls, the leader of a big band, as he passed under the swing, threw up his head, and the girl disappeared, but the Coyote, peeping out of the lodge door, saw on the horn of this Bull a ring, and then he knew that this ring was the girl. Then the Bull ran away fast, and all the Buffalo ran after him.

When the Buffalo had gone, the Coyote came out of the lodge and saw that the girl was not there. He did not know what to do. He was frightened. Pretty soon he heard the girl's brothers coming. They had seen the dust, and knew that some one was swinging their sister, and that the Buffalo had come. They hurried back, running fast, and when they reached the lodge they found the Coyote just dragging himself out of a mud-hole. He crawled out crying, and pretended that the Buffalo had run over him and trampled him. His bow and arrows were in the mud. He told the brothers his story and said that he had tried hard to save the girl, but that he had not known that so many Buffalo would come. He said he had thought that the girl must be swung high, so that the Buffalo could see her from a long way off.

The brothers felt very sorry that their sister was lost. They talked together to see what they should do, trying to decide what would be the best plan to get her back again. While they were talking about this, the Coyote, with all the mud upon him, stood before them and said: "Brothers, do not feel sorry because your sister is lost. I will get her back again. Live on just as you always do. Do not think about this. Do not let it trouble you. I will get her back again." After he had spoken thus, he said, "Now I am going to start off on the war-path," and he left them and went away.

He journeyed on alone considering what he should do, and at length, as he was traveling along over the prairie, he met a Badger, who said to him, "Brother, where are you going?" The Coyote said: "I am going on the war-path against my enemies. Will you join my party?" The Badger said, "Yes, I will join you." They went on. After they had gone a long way, they saw a Swift Hawk sitting on the limb of a tree by a ravine. He asked them where they were going, and they told him, and asked him if he would go with them. He said he would go. After a time they met a Kit Fox, and asked him to join them, and he did so. Then they met a Jack Rabbit, who said he would go with them. They went on, and at length they met a Blackbird, and asked him to join them. He said: "Let it be so. I will go."

Soon after they had all got together they stopped and sat down, and the Coyote told them how the girl had been lost, and said that he intended to try to get her back. Then they talked, and the Coyote told them the plan that he -- the leader -- had made. The others listened, and said that they would do whatever he told them to. They were all glad to help to recover the girl.

Then they all stood up and made ready to start, and the Coyote said to the Blackbird, "Friend, you stay here until the time comes." So the Blackbird remained there where they had been talking, and the others went on. After they had gone some distance farther, the Coyote told the Hawk to stop and wait there. He did so. The others went on a long way, and then the Coyote said to the Rabbit, "You stay here." The others went on, and at the next stopping-place he left the Kit Fox; and at the next -- last of all -- he left the Badger. Then the Coyote went on alone and traveled a long way, and at length he came to the Buffalo camp. He went out to the place where the young Bulls used to play the stick game, and lay down there. It was early in the morning.

After a time some of the young Bulls came out, and began to roll the ring and to throw their sticks at it. The Coyote now pretended to be very sick. His hair was all covered with mud, and his tongue hung out of his mouth, and he staggered about and fell down and then got up again, and seemed to feel badly. Sometimes he would get over near to where the ring was being rolled, and then the young Bulls would call out: "Here, hold on! Don't get in the way."

After a little while the Coyote pretended that he felt better, and he got up and went over to where the young Bulls were sitting, looking on at the game, and sat down with them, and watched the play with the others. Every now and then two of the young Bulls would begin to dispute over the game, each saying that his stick was the nearer to the ring, and sometimes they would wrangle for a long time. Once, while they were doing this, the Coyote went up to them and said: "Here! You men need not quarrel about this. Let me look. I know all about this game. I can tell which stick is the nearer." The Bulls stopped talking and looked at him, and then said: "Yes, let him look. Let us hear what he says." Then the Coyote went up to the ring and looked, and said, pointing: "That stick is nearest. That man has won." The Bulls looked at each other, and nodded their heads and said, "He knows. He is right." The next time they had a dispute, he decided it again, and all were satisfied.

At length two of the young Bulls had a very fierce dispute, and almost came to fighting over it. The Coyote came up and looked, and said: "This is very close. I must look carefully, but I cannot see well if you are all crowding around me in this way. I must have room. You would all better go over to that hill, and sit down there and wait for me to decide." The Bulls all went over to the hill and sat down, and then the Coyote began to look. First he would go to one stick and look carefully, and then he would go to the other and look. The sticks were about the same distance from the ring, and for a long time it seemed that he could not make up his mind which was the nearer. He went backward and forward, looking at the sticks, and stooping down and putting his hands on his knees and squinting, and at last, when once his face was close to the ground, he suddenly snatched up the ring in his mouth, and started, running as hard as he could for the place where he had left the Badger.

As soon as he had started, all the Bulls on the hill saw what he was doing -- that he was taking the ring away from them -- and they started after him. They did not want to lose the ring, for it was very useful to them, and they played with it all the time. When the Buffalo in the camp saw that the young Bulls had started, they all followed, so that soon all the Buffalo were rushing after the Coyote. He ran fast, and for a long time he kept ahead of the Buffalo, but they followed, a great mass of Buffalo crowding and pushing, running as hard as they could run. At last the Coyote was beginning to get tired, and was running more slowly, and the Buffalo were beginning to catch up to him, but he was getting near to where the Badger was. After a time the Buffalo were getting nearer to the Coyote. He was very tired, and it seemed to him as if he could not run any farther. If he did not soon get to where he had left the Badger, the Buffalo would run over him and trample him to death, and get back the ring. At length, when they were close behind him, he ran over the top of a little hill, and down in the valley below saw the Badger sitting at the mouth of his hole. The Coyote raced down the hill as fast as he could, and when he got to the hole he gave the ring to the Badger, and just as the herd of Buffalo got to the place, they both dived down into the hole.

The Buffalo crowded about the Badger's hole, and began to paw the ground, to dig it up so as to get the Coyote and the ring, but the Badger had dug a hole a long way under the ground, and while the Buffalo were digging he ran along through this hole and came out far off, and ran as hard as he could toward the brothers' lodge. Before he had gone very far, some of the Buffalo on the outside of the herd saw him, and called out to the others: "There he is! There he goes!" Then all the Buffalo started again and ran after the Badger. When they had come pretty close to him, he would stop running and dig another hole, and while the Buffalo were crowding around the hole, trying to dig him out, he would dig along under the ground, until he had got far beyond them, and would then come to the top of the ground, and run as fast as he could toward the lodge. Then the Buffalo would see him and follow him.

In this way he went a long distance, but at length he got tired and felt that he could not run or dig much farther. He was almost spent. At last, when he dug out of the ground, he saw not far off the Kit Fox, lying curled upon a rock, asleep in the sun. He called out: "Oh, my brother, I am almost tired out! Help me! "

The Kit Fox jumped up and ran to him and took the ring in his mouth and started running, and the Badger dug a deep hole, and stayed there. The little Fox ran fast, gliding along like a bird; and the Buffalo, when they saw him running, chased him and ran hard. The Kit Fox is a swift animal, and for a long time he kept ahead of the Buffalo.

When he was almost tired out, he came to where the Rabbit was, and gave him the ring, and ran into a hole, and the Rabbit ran on. The Buffalo followed the Rabbit, but he ran fast and kept ahead of them for a long time. When they had almost caught him, he came to where the Hawk was sitting.

The Hawk took the ring in his claws and flew off with it, and the Rabbit ran off to one side and hid in the long grass. The Buffalo followed the Hawk, and ran after him. They seemed never to get tired. The Hawk, after he had been flying a long time, began to feel very weary. He would sail down low over the Buffaloes backs, and was only just able to keep above them. At last he got near to where the Blackbird was.

When the Blackbird heard the pounding of many hoofs and knew that the Buffalo were coming, he flew up on a sunflower stalk and waited. When the Buffalo came to the place where he was, he flew up over them to the Hawk, and took the ring on his neck, and flew along over the Buffalo. The ring was heavy for so small a bird, and he would alight on the backs of the Buffalo and fly from one to another. The Buffalo would toss their heads and try to hit him with their horns, but he kept flying from one to another, and the Buffalo behind were always pushing forward to get near the ring, and they pushed the other Buffalo ahead of them. Pretty soon the herd passed over a hill and were rushing down to the place on the river where the brothers' lodge stood.

Ever since their sister had been lost, the brothers had been making arrows, and now they had piles of them stacked up about the lodge. When they saw the Buffalo coming they got their bows and took their arrows in their hands, and shot and shot until they had killed many, many Buffalo, and the rest were frightened and ran away.

The Blackbird had flown into the lodge with the ring, and after the brothers had finished killing, they went into the lodge. And there, sitting by the fire and smiling at them as they came in, they saw their sister.




The Magic Horse of Ku-Suk-Seia

Once before the white men drove them away to Oklahoma, the Pawnee Indians lived in Nebraska, where their sworn enemies were the Sioux. There they lived all the time in villages, where they were skilled farmers and potters.

In one of the Pawnee villages lived a poor woman with her grandson Ku-suk-seia, which means 'left-hand'. She was a helpful old soul, and the boy was pleasant and friendly. Yet the two of them were not well thought of in the village, for while there was no shame in being poor, there was no glory either. And they had practically nothing: no horses, no cattle, nothing worth mentioning at all. Their clothes were clean enough, but much patched. When Ku-suk-seia's father had died in a hunting accident, he had no fine head-dresses to leave to his son. Even their TNT was small and badly placed, and when Hotoru the storm god swept over the prairie the modest shelter shivered on it's poles as if it might collapse at any moment.

As soon as the bison began to move in the autumn, the Pawnees went hunting. For the northern winter would be long and bitter, and before it came they must have enough dried fish, pemmican and bison skins to see them safely through till spring.

So when the chief gave the order to set off, the Pawnees gathered together their tents and everything they needed for the journey. Even the old woman and her grandson tied up their few belongings. They had neither a mount or beast of burden, so they loaded their baggage on their own shoulders and trotted after the caravan of people.

They were so poor that their people would not let them join the caravan. Instead they trudge miserably along a little way away. Humans can be very cruel, and the contempt of their people weighed heavier on the couple than the burdens on their shoulders. The Great Spirit couldn't be very kindly disposed to them if he let them suffer so.

One fine morning the rest of the group left the campsite before the poor couple had gathered their belongings together. The old woman and her grandson were nearly dying of hunger, so they searched through the site looking for cast-off food. At that moment a broken-down old bay horse slipped into the stockade on the same errand. Catching sight of them, the old nag breathed in sharply, and snorted. But then he walked up to them and made friends, for the poor soon recognize the poor.

"Poor animal, said Ku-suk-seia. "I expect his owner got rid of him once he wasn't fit for work."

The poor creature was half-blind, deaf and lame. His ribs stuck out under his dull stained coat, which was covered with sores.

"What a pitiful sight," thought the grandmother to herself. "The poor creature is as useless as I am!" But the animal would not stray more than an inch from her side.

"Son of my son," she confided at last to her grandson. "We are going to keep this old nag and feed it. With the two of us already starving, a third poor wretch won't make much difference."

Ku-suk-seia and his grandmother began to load their baggage onto their shoulders. But the horse knelt down and began to whinny.

"Just look at that! laughed the boy. "I think he wants to make himself useful, the brave animal."

So he put the baggage on the horse's back, and the beast followed them at a gentle trot. limping all the time. The rest of the tribe had disappeared long ago, but the grandmother knew the way of the old.

That evening they reached the bend of the North plate, where the water Spirit Chahuru had hurled an enormous boulder into the river. Every year the Pawnees set up their main camp there before scattering across the prairie. The bison rarely strayed from their ancient trail, and so the migrating herds almost always passed through North Plate.

The rest of the Pawnees had set up camp on the river bank earlier. Scouts had been sent ahead, and in the evening they returned.

"There is a big herd of bison moving westwards," they reported, "and a white female is close behind the leader of the herd."

This was exciting news. The skin of a white bison was the most precious thing an Indian of the prairies could imagine. White bisons were very rare, and no Pawnee had ever been known to fell one.

The chief of the Pawnees prayed a long prayer, calling on the helpful spirit Awahokshu and begging all the other good spirits to come to his aid.

"He who brings me the white skin shall have the hand of my daughter,"he promised his people.

Now the chief's daughter was the prettiest girl in the tribe and all the braves wanted to win her. Next morning, when the sun rose behind the boulders of hotoru, the hunters scattered far and wide over the prairie to hunt the white female.

Ku-suk-seia too mounted his skinny horse, but the warriors mocked him.

"Just look at the hot-headed steed, everyone!" they jeered. "Which is carrying which, the horse or the rider?" and they elbowed each other in the ribs, laughing fit to burst.

Their jeers cut Ku-suk-seia to the quick, but he did not show it. He lagged behind, partly to escape the other's taunts and partly because the old mount could go no faster. All alone they sauntered along through the high grasses of the prairie.

Suddenly, the horse began to talk. "Take me to that little valley," he said. Ku-suk-seia was startled, but he obeyed. A talking horse was certainly out of the ordinary, but who knew what the Great Spirit might have in store? Soon they came to a stream.

"Cover me with mud!" the horse ordered his rider. "Not a tuft of hair must show, or the spell won't work."

Puzzled, Ku-suk-seia did as he was told.

"Now climb on my back," said the old nag. "But don't move yet. Let the hunters go on ahead."

The Pawnee warriors galloped after the bison in a cloud of dust. Then they split into two groups and rode off in different directions, to surround the bison and cut out some of the herd.

At that moment the old horse began to move. Hurling himself onwards like a tornado, he charged the herd from the side. The warriors watched open-mouthed. Wasn't that Ku-suk-seia on his blind old nag? What magic made it gallop fast as a prairie fire?

The horse forced its way straight to the white female. Ku-suk-seia/s spear shone in the morning light. He took aim calmly and hurled it with all his strength. The white bison sank to the ground as if struck by lightning, and the horse gave a whinny of victory.

Ku-suk-seia jumped down and dismembered the dead animal, while the rest of the herd fled in all directions. He loaded the meat to his mount, wrapped himself in the white skin and rode back to the camp.

The news of his triumph had reached it ahead of him, and the chief was waiting in front of the main tepee.

"Awahokshu" was with you," said the chief kindly. "The spirit brought you luck, or you could never have felled the white bison. Give me the skin."

"All in good time," replied Ku-suk-seia. "First I must go to my grandmother, for she is hungry."

It was not a wise thing to say to a chief, and an angry gaze followed him as he rode over to his tepee. He unloaded the meat himself, though that was usually squaw's work.

"A miracle, a miracle!" cried his grandmother, clasping her hands. "H'uararu the earth spirit must have been with you, my brave boy. Now we shan't be hungry any more."

"Cook us some meat, grandmother," said Ku-suk-seia, "while I give this horse some water and something to eat. For a rider must see to his mount before he thinks of himself." The horse gave a whinny of contentment. When it had eaten it's fill, it watched Ku-suk-seia and his grandmother feasting on bison meat.

Before he went to bed, Ku-suk-seia walked over to stroke his mount.

"Tomorrow, at sunrise, the Sioux will attack the camp," said the horse. "Ride me right into the enemy. Have no fear, but kill the Sioux chief, and hurl yourself at the enemy three times. Nothing can hurt you. But after that turn back, or one of us will die."

Everything happened just as that horse had said. At the first glimpse of dawn, the Sioux war cry rang out. An army of braves had surrounded the Pawnee camp.

The boy mounted his horse and rode fearlessly into the enemy ranks. Arrows and spears hailed down on him, but some unseen shield seemed to be protecting him. He rode up to the Sioux chief, brandishes his tomahawk and killed the chief with a single blow.

Twice more he hurled himself on the enemy, killing many of the Sioux warriors. But he became over-confident, and forgot the horse's advice. A third time he spurred the horse on, and now the Sioux weapons met their mark. Riddled with arrows, the horse sank to the ground. Ku-suk-seia escaped, but his brave mount was dead.

When he reached his tent he threw himself down, beating the ground with his fists. Why, oh why hadn't he taken that advice? Now he had lost his companion forever.

The Sioux cut the magic horse into countless pieces, scattered them to the four winds, and fled.

Weeping, Ku-suk-seia searched the battlefield from top to bottom. He gathered up all the pieces and collected them in a heap on a hill. Then he sat down beside them and wrapped himself in the white bison skin. His heart breaking, he prayed to the Chikoos, the forces of nature. He called to Tirawa the Great Spirit and to the helpful Awahokshu. He cried to Shakuru the sun god, H'uararu the earth spirit and to Uti Hiata the harvest goddess, on who fruits his horse had fed. He prayed to the went god Hotoru and the water spirit Chahuru.

Suddenly the sky darkened. Lightning flashed across the clouds, and thunder rumbled. Huge water spouts gushed out across the prairie. The river rose, and a great storm raged. Volley of hailstone come crashing down. It even snowed; something unheard of at that time of the year. For three days and three nights Ku-suk-seia sat there under the skin of the white bison. Then at last the veil of blackness was torn apart, and darkness gave way to broad daylight. The sun shone in all it's brightness, and there in place of the scattered bones stood the bay horse, strong and healthy.

"Tirawa, the Great Spirit, has brought me back to life," he said to his master. "Why did you disobey me?"

"I forgot, and I am truly sorry," replied the boy. "Tell me what I must do."

"Promise to follow my counsel at all times, for it comes from the Great Spirit himself," said the horse.

The boy promised gladly. He handed the white skin over to his chief, and received the hand of his daughter. When the chief died, he himself became a famous chief. He followed the advice of the bay horse at all times, and ruled the Pawnees with great wisdom and skill.

At last Ku-suk-seia died. The Pawnees intoned their death chants, wrapped their chief in the white bison skins and laid him on the litter of the dead. But when the warriors went to find his mount, to kill him on the alter of the dead so that he could go to the Happy Hunting Grounds with his master, the bay horse had disappeared.


Penobscot Indian Lore:


Corn Mother

When Kloskurbeh, the All Maker lived on earth, there were no people yet. But one day when the sun was high, a youth appeared and called him "Uncle, brother of my mother."

This young man was born from the foam of the waves, foam quickened by the wind and warmed by the sun. It was the motion of the wind, the moistness of water, and the sun's warmth which gave him life - warmth above all, because warmth is life.

The young man lived with Kloskurbeh and became his chief helper.

Now, after these two powerful beings had created all manner of things, there came to them, as the sun was shining at high noon, a beautiful girl. She was born of the wonderful earth plant, and of the dew, and of warmth. Because a drop of dew fell on a leaf and was warmed by the sun, and the warming sun is life, this girl came into being - from the green living plant, from moisture, and from warmth.

"I am love," said the maiden. "I am a strength giver, I am the nourisher, I am the provider of men and animals. They all love me."

Then Kloskurbeh thanked the Great Mystery Above for having sent them the maiden.

The youth, the Great Nephew, married her, and the girl conceived and thus became the First Mother. And Kloskurbeh, the Great Uncle, who teaches humans all they need to know, taught their children how to live.

Then he went away to dwell in the north, from which he will return sometime when he is needed.

Now the people increased and became numerous. They lived by hunting, and the more people there were, the less game they found. They were hunting it out, and as the animals decreased, starvation came upon the people.

First Mother pitied them.

The little children came to First Mother and said: "We are hungry. Feed us."

But she had nothing to give them, and she wept. She told them: "Be patient. I will make some food. Then you little bellies will be full." But she kept weeping.

Her husband asked: "How can I make you smile? How can I make you happy?"

"There is only one thing that can stop my tears."

"What is it?" asked her husband.

"It is this: you must kill me," she said.

"I could never do that," he said.

She said, "You must, or I will go on weeping and grieving forever."

Then the husband traveled far, to the end of the earth, to the north he went, to ask the Great Instructor, his uncle Kloskurbeh, what he should do.

"You must do what she wants. You must kill her," said Kloskurbeh.

Then the young man went back to his home, and it was his turn to weep.

But First Mother said: "Tomorrow at high noon you must do it. After you have killed me, let two of our sons take hold of my hair and drag my body over that empty patch of earth. Let them drag me back and forth, back and forth, over every part of the patch, until all my flesh has been torn from my body.

Afterwards, take my bones, gather them up, and bury them in the middle of this clearing. Then leave that place." She smiled and said, "Wait seven moons and then come back, and you will find my flesh there, flesh given out of love, and it will nourish and strengthen you forever and ever."

So it was done. The husband slew his wife and her sons, praying, dragged her body to and fro as she had commanded, until her flesh covered all the earth. Then they took up her bones and buried them in the middle of it. Weeping loudly, they went away.

When the husband and his children and his children's children came back to that place after seven moons had passed, they found the earth covered with tall, green, tasseled plants. The plants' fruit, corn, was First Mother's flesh, given so that the people might live and flourish.

And they partook of First Mother's flesh and found it sweet beyond words. Following her instructions, they did not eat all, but put many kernels back into the earth. In this way, her flesh and spirit renewed themselves every seven months, generation after generation.

And at the spot where they burned First Mother's bones, there grew another plant, broad leafed and fragrant. It was First Mother's breath, and they heard her spirit talking: "Burn this up and smoke it. It is sacred. It will clear your minds, help your prayers, and gladden your hearts."

And First Mother's husband called the first plant Skarmunal, corn, and the second plant utarmur-wayeh, tobacco.

"Remember," he told the people, "and take good care of First Mother's flesh, because it is her goodness become substance. Take good care of her breath, because it is her breath turned into smoke. Remember her and think of her whenever you eat, whenever you smoke this sacred plant, because she has given her life so that you might live. Yet she is not dead, she lives: in undying love she renews herself again and again."



The Legend Of The Bear Family

Many, many generations ago, a Penobscot, his wife, and their little son started out from their village to go to Canada. They were from Penobscot Bay, bound for a great council and dance to be held at the Iroquois village of Caughnawaga. They went upriver to the point where they had to make a 20-mile portage to reach another river that would take them to the St. Lawrence.

The man started ahead with the canoe on his back, leaving his wife to pack part of the luggage to their first overnight campsite. The little boy ran alongside of her. While she was busy arranging her pack, her son ran on ahead to catch up with his father.

The man had gone so far ahead, the boy became lost. The mother assumed the boy was with his father. When she arrived at the campground, they discovered that their son was with neither of them. They began a search immediately, but they could not find him.

The parents returned home to tell their story to their tribe. All of the men turned out for a wide search party, which lasted for several months without success. In March of the next year, the Penobscot found some sharpened sticks near the river. They concluded that the boy must be alive and had been spearing fish. Footprints of bears were seen, and they thought perhaps the boy had been adopted by a bear family.

In the village, there was a lazy man who did not enter into the search, but lay around idly. Everyone asked him, "Why don't you help hunt for the boy? You seem to be good for nothing."
"Very well, I will," he replied. He went right to the bear's den and knocked with his bow on the rocks at the entrance. Inside, a great noise arose where the father, mother, baby bear, and adopted boy lived. The father-bear went to the entrance, holding out a birch-bark vessel. The lazy man shot at it and killed the bear.

The mother-bear says, "Now I will go." She took another vessel, held it out at the entrance, and also was killed. The baby bear did the same and was killed. All of the bears were laid out dead in the cave. Then the lazy man entered and saw the little boy terribly afraid and huddled in a dark corner, crying for his relatives and trying to hide.

The lazy hunter gently carried him home to the village and gave him to his parents. Everyone gave the lazy man presents: two blankets, a canoe, ammunition, and other good things. He became rich overnight.

The boy's parents, however, noticed that their son seemed to be turning into a bear. Bristles were showing on his upper back and shoulders, and his manners had changed. Finally they helped him to become a real person again, and he grew up to be a Penobscot Indian like his father. He married and had children. Forever after he and all of his descendants were called Bears.

They drew pictures of bears on pieces of birch-bark with charcoal and left them at camps wherever they went. All of their descendants seemed to do this and declare, "I am one of the Bear family."


Pima Indian Lore:


Tale Of Elder Brother
(This is a story featuring the Pima culture hero, Elder Brother.)

You people desired to capture Elder Brother so that you might destroy him, so you went to Vulture.
He made a miniature earth, shaping the mountains, routing the water courses, and placing the trees, and in four days he completed his task.
Mounting the zigzag ladders of his house he flew forth and circled about until he saw Elder Brother. Vulture saw the blue flames issuing from Brother's heart and knew that he was invulnerable. In his turn Elder Brother knew what had made the earth, and wished to kill him.

Elder Brother, as he regained consciousness, rose on hands and feet and swayed unsteadily from side to side. He looked at the land about him, and at first it seemed a barren waste, but as he recovered from his bewilderment he saw the wonderful world Vulture had built.

Looking about him he saw a river toward the west along which grew arrow bushes. From these he cut four magic sticks; placing his hand on these he blew smoke over them, whereupon magic power shone forth from between his fingers. He was much pleased with this and laughed softly to himself.

He rubbed his magic bag of buckskin four times with each of the four sticks and then put them in and tied it. Then, with his strength fully recovered, Elder Brother began to move.

He arose and crushed all mortal magicians; the orator, the warrior, the industrious, and the provident woman, and even ground his own house into the earth. Then he sank beneath the surface of the earth.

He reappeared in the east and made a transparent trail back to the place where he had gone down. About the base of his mountains the water began to seep forth; entering, he came out with spirit refreshed.
Taking all waters, even those covered with water plants, he dipped his hands in and made downward passes. Touching the large trees he made downward sweeps with his hands.

Going to the place where he had killed Eagle he sat down looking like a ghost. A voice from the darkness asked,
"Why are you here?"
He answered sadly that despite all that he had done for them the people hated him.
He went on to the east, renewing his power four times at the place where the sun rises. He blew his hot breath upon the people, which like a weight held them where they were.
He went along with the sun on his journey, traveling along the south border of the trail where there was a fringe of beads, feathers, strings of down, and flowers. He jerked the string holding these so that they fell and made the magicians jump. Later he did the same thing in the north.

On his journey along the sun's orbit Elder Brother came to Talking Tree.
"Why do you come like a ghost?" asked Tree.
He replied,
"Despite all I have done for the people they hate me."

Tree broke one of its middle branches and cut a notch around it to form a war club and gave it to him. Then Tree took a branch on the south side and made a bundle of ceremonial sticks from it for him.
He saw a trail toward the south and another toward the north bordered with shells, feathers, down, and flowers, and he turned them all over.

Arriving at the drinking place of the sun, he knelt down and saw a dark-blue stone. He left there the sticks cut from the arrow bush which he knew contained all his enemies' power, but he kept in his grasp the sticks cut from Talking Tree.
Toward the south were strewn necklaces, earrings, feathers, strings of down, and flowers, all of which he jerked and threw face down.
Toward the north he threw down the same objects, and as they struck the earth the magicians jumped again.
Reaching the place where the sun sets he slid down four times before he reached the place where Earth Doctor lived.

"Why do you come looking like a ghost?" asked the god.
"Despite all that I have done for them the people hate me," he answered.
By Earth Doctor's order the wind from the west caught him up and carried him far to the east, then brought him back and violently tossed him back down to earth. The south wind carried him to the north; the east wind carried him to the west; the wind from the zenith carried him to the sky; all carelessly dropped him back down again.
From his cigarette containing two kinds of roots Earth Doctor blew smoke upon the breast of Elder Brother, whereupon green leaves sprang forth and he gained consciousness. Earth Doctor cleared the ground for a council and then picked up Elder Brother as he would have taken up a child and put him in his house.

Earth Doctor sent Gray Gopher up through the earth to emerge in the east by the white water where lay the eagle tail.
He came out by the black water where lay the raven feathers.
He came out by the blue water where lay the bluebird's feathers.
He came out by the yellow water where lay the hawk feathers.

He found so many people that he feared they could not be conquered. But he gnawed the magic power of their leader until he weakened it. Then he returned to the council in the nether world, where his power as a magician was recognized, and he was placed on a mat with Elder Brother.

The people were now ready to do whatever Elder Brother desired of them and, like fierce predatory animals or birds of prey,they poured out of the underworld and fell upon the people of the upper world, whom they conquered without difficulty.
The victors swept the property and everything relating to the conquered from the face of the earth.

Consider the magic power which abode with me and which is at your service.




      The Flood On Superstition Mountain

In the state of Arizona, the Pima Indian tribe declares that the father of all men and animals was Great Butterfly--Cherwit Make, meaning the Earth-Maker.

One day long ago, Great Butterfly fluttered down from the clouds to the Blue Cliffs, where two rivers met, later called the Verde and Salt rivers. There he made man from his own sweat.

From that day on the people multiplied, but in time they grew selfish and quarrelsome. Earth-Maker became annoyed with their behavior and decided it might be best to drown all of them.

But first, he thought to warn them through the voices of the winds.

"People of the Pima tribe," called North Wind. "Sky Spirit warns you to be honest with one another and to live in peace from now on."

Suha, Shaman of the Pimas, interpreted to the people what North Wind had warned them about.

"What a fool you are, Suha, to listen to the voices of the winds," taunted his tribesmen.

On the next night, the same warning from Earth-Maker was repeated by East Wind, who added, "Chief Sky Spirit warns that all of you will be destroyed by floods if you do not live nobler lives."

Again, the Pimas mocked the winds and ignored their warnings. Next night, West Wind spoke, "Reform, people of the Pimas, or your evil ways will destroy you."

Then South Wind breathed into Suha's ear, "Suha, you and your good wife are the only people worth saving. Go and make a large, hollow ball of spruce gum in which you and your wife can live a long as the coming flood will last."

Because Suha and his wife believed the warnings and were obedient, they set to work immediately on a high hill, gathering spruce gum and shaping it into a large hollow ball. They stocked it with plenty of nuts, acorns, water, and bear and deer meats.

Near the appointed time, Suha and his good wife looked down sadly upon the lovely green valley. They heard the songs of the harvesters. They sighed to think of the beauty about them that would be destroyed when the flood came because of the people's selfishness. Suddenly, a bright lightning flash and loud thunder rocked the Blue Cliffs. It was a signal for the flood to begin.

Suha and his wife went into the gum-ball ark and closed the door tightly. Swirling, dark clouds surrounded them. Torrents of rain poured down everywhere. For many days, the ark rolled and tossed about on the deepening sea.

After many, many moons, the downpour of rain stopped. The ark settled upon the land again, high on a mountaintop. Suha opened the door and stepped forth to see a tuna cactus growing near his feet. He and his wife ate some of the red fruit of the cactus plant. Below them, they saw water everywhere.

That night they retired again to the ark. They must have slept a very long time, because when they awoke the water had disappeared, the valleys were green, and the bird songs rang forth again.

Suha and his wife descended from Superstition Mountain, a name later given to the mountain upon which the ark had landed. They went down into the fertile valley and lived there for a thousand years. The forthcoming people prospered, becoming known as the Pima tribe.

These Pimas later believed a story that an evil one named Hauk lived behind Superstition Mountain. He was also called the "Devil of Superstition Mountain" because he tried to steal daughters from the Pimas.

One day, Hauk secretly descended into Pima valley, where the women were busy weaving. He stole one of Suha's daughters. Suha followed Hauk to his home behind Superstition Mountain, where he observed his daughter treated as a servant-girl by Hauk.

Suha poisoned the cactus wine that his daughter served Hauk. When he drank it, Hauk died instantly. After that the world seemed less wicked, but always the Pimas feared that Hauk's evil spirit still lurked behind Superstition Mountain.

Suha, Shaman and inspired leader of the Pima tribe, taught his people to build adobe houses, to dig gardens with bones and stones, to irrigate their lands from the rivers; to raise sheep, horses, and cattle, and, above all, to live in peace with one another.

On his dying day, Suha gathered his people and foretold:

"If you ever grow arrogant with wealth, if you ever become covetous of others' lands, if you ever make war for gain, if you ever disgrace yourselves before Chief of the Sky Spirits--another flood will come upon you.

"If that happens again, bad persons will never be saved; only good persons will eventually live with the Sun-God."

Since that time, Pimas have believed Suha's prophecies; and they never, never go onto Superstition Mountain.

But their people love to tell the story of why and how the gum- ball ark landed on Superstition Mountain, saving Suha and his good wife, who became the beloved ancestors of their large and important Pima Tribe.




The Well-Baked Man

The creation of the white man is depicted here, as in many other tales, as one of the Creator's slight mistakes.

The Magician had made the world but felt that something was missing. "What could it be?" he thought. "What could be missing?" Then it came to him that what he wanted on this earth was some beings like himself, not just animals. "How will I make them?" he thought. First he built himself a horno, an oven. Then he took some clay and formed it into a shape like himself.
Now, Coyote was hanging around the way he usually does, and when Magician, who was Man Maker, was off gathering firewood, Coyote quickly changed the shape of the clay image. Man Maker built a fire inside the horno, then put the image in without looking at it closely.
After a while the Magician said: "He must be ready now." He took the image and breathed on it, whereupon it came to life. "Why don't you stand up?" said Man Maker. "What's wrong with you?" The creature barked and wagged it's tail. "Ah, oh my, Coyote has tricked me," he said. "Coyote changed my being into an animal like himself."
"Coyote said, "Well, what's wrong with it? Why can't I have a pretty creature that pleases me?"
"Oh my, well, all right, but don't interfere again." That's why we have the dog; it was Coyote's doing.
So Man Maker tried again. "They should be companions to each other," he thought. "I shouldn't make just one." He shaped some humans who were rather like himself and identical twin each other in every part.
"What's wrong here?" Man Maker was thinking. Then he saw. "Oh my, that won't do. How can they increase?" So he pulled a little between the legs of one image, saying: "Ah, that's much better." With his fingernail he made a crack in the other image. He put some pleasant feeling in them somewhere. "Ah, now it's good. Now they'll be able to do all the necessary things." He put them in the horno to bake.
"They're done now," Coyote told him. So Man Maker took them out and made them come to life.
"Oh my, what's wrong?" he said. "They're underdone; they're not brown enough. They don't belong here--they belong across the water someplace." He scowled at Coyote. "Why did you tell me they were done? I can't use them here."
So the Magician tried again, making a pair like the last one and placing them in the oven. After a while he said: "I think they're ready now."
"No, they aren't done yet," said Coyote. "You don't want them to come out too light again; leave them in a little longer."
"Well, all right," replied Man Maker. They waited, and then he took them out. "Oh my. What's wrong? These are overdone. They're burned too dark." He put them aside. "Maybe I can use them some other place across the water. They don't belong here."
For the fourth time Man Maker placed his images inside the oven. "Now, don't interfere," he said to Coyote, "you give me bad advice. Leave me alone."
This time the Magician did not listen to Coyote, but took them out when he himself though they were done. He made them come to life, and the two beings walked around, talked, laughed, and behaved in a seemly fashion. They were neither underdone nor overdone.
"These are exactly right," said Man Maker. "These really belong here; these I will use. They are beautiful." So that's why we have the Pima Indians.


Pomo Indian Lore:


The Girl Who Married Rattlesnake

At a place called Cobowin there was a large rock with a hole in it, and many rattlesnakes lived inside this hole.
Nearby at Kalesima there was a village with four large houses, and in the one with a center pole lived a girl.

In the spring when clover was just right to eat, this girl went out to gather some. While she was working, she was watched by a rattlesnake.
The snake followed her back to the village, and close to her house he transformed himself into a handsome young man with a net on his head and fine beads around his neck.
Then he climbed up onto the top of the house and came down the center pole.

The family was surprised to see him, but he told the girl that he wanted to marry her. He remained with the family overnight and the following morning went home again.

He arrived and left like this for four days; then on the fifth evening he came back, but this time did not change his form. He simply slithered into the house and began conversing just as before. The girl's mother, waiting for her daughter's suitor, said she heard someone talking in the place where she heard the sound, and there was Rattlesnake. He shook his snake's head, and she dropped the light and ran in terror.

On the following morning Rattlesnake took the girl home with him, and there she remained.
In time she bore him four boys. Whenever these children saw any people from the village, they would coil to strike, but their mother would say,
"No, you mustn't bite your relatives." And the children would obey her.

As the four rattlesnake boys grew older, they also grew more curious, and one day they came in from playing and asked their mother,
"Why don't you talk the way we do? Why are you different?"
"I'm not a rattlesnake, like you and your father," she replied. "I'm a human being."
"Aren't you afraid of our father?" asked the boys, and she shook her head.

Then the oldest said that he had heard the other rattlesnakes discussing her differences and deciding to crawl over her body to find out what kind of creature she was.
While this might have alarmed another human, the rattlesnake's wife was not at all afraid. When the other rattlesnakes came, she calmly let them crawl over her.
Then she said to her oldest boy,
"It's impossible for you to become a human being, and though I'm not really human any longer, I must go back to my parents and tell them what has happened."

And so she returned to the house with the center pole and said to her parents,
"This is the last time that I will be able to talk to you and the last time that you can talk with me."
Her father and mother were sad, but they said nothing until their daughter started to leave. Then her mother ran and caught her by the door, brought her back into the house, and wept over her because she was so changed.
But the girl shook her body, and suddenly she was gone. No one knew how or where she went, but they think she returned to Rattlesnake's house and has lived there ever since.



Ponka Indian Lore:



Banshee of the Bad Lands

"Hell, with the fires out," is what the Bad Lands of Dakota have been called. The fearless Western nomenclature fits the place. It is an ancient sea-bottom, with its clay strata worn by frost and flood into forms like pagodas, pyramids, and terraced cities. Labyrinthine canyons wind among the fantastic peaks, which are brilliant in color, but bleak, savage, and oppressive. Game course over the castellated hills, rattlesnakes bask at the edge of the crater above the burning coal seams, and wild men have made despairing stand here against advancing civilization. It may have been the white victim of a red man's jealously that haunts the region of the butte called Watch Dog," or it man have been an Indian woman who was killed there, but there is a banshee in the desert whose cried have chilled the blood that would not have cooled at the sight of a bear or panther. By moonlight, when the scenery is most suggestive and unearthly, and the noises of wolves and owls inspire uneasy feelings, the ghost is seen on a hill a mile south of the Watch Dog, her hair blowing, her arms tossing in strange gestures.

If war parties, emigrants, cowboys, hunters, any who for good or ill are going through this country, pass the haunted butte at night, the rocks are lighted with phosphor flashes and the banshee sweeps upon them. As if wishing to speak, or as if waiting a question that it has occurred none to ask, she stands beside them in an attitude of appeal, but if asked what she wants she flings her arms aloft and with a shriek that echoes through the blasted gulches for a mile she disappears and an instant later is seen wringing her hands on her hill-top. Cattle will not graze near the haunted butte and the cowboys keep aloof from it, for the word has never been spoken that will solve the mystery of the region or quiet the unhappy banshee.

The creature has a companion, sometimes, in an un fleshed skeleton that trudges about the ash and clay and haunts the camps in search for music. If he hears it he will sit outside the door and nod in time to it, while a violin left within its reach is eagerly seized and will be played on through half the night. The music is wondrous: now as soft as the stir of wind in the sage, anon as harsh as the cry of a wolf or startling as the stir of a rattler. As the east begins to brighten the music grows fainter, and when it is fairly light it has ceased altogether. But he who listens to it must on no account follow the player if the skeleton moves away, for not only will it lead him into rocky pitfalls, whence escape is hopeless, but when there the music will intoxicate, madden, and will finally charm his soul from his body.


Popago Indian Lore:



One day the Creator was resting, sitting, watching some children at play in a village. The children laughed and sang, yet as he watched them, the Creator's heart was sad.
He was thinking:
"These children will grow old. Their skin will become wrinkled. Their hair will turn gray. Their teeth will fall out. The young hunter's arm will fail. These lovely young girls will grow ugly and fat. The playful puppies will become blind, mangy dogs. And those wonderful flowers - yellow and blue, red and purple - will fade. The leaves from the trees will fall and dry up. Already they are turning yellow."

Thus the Creator grew sadder and sadder. It was in the fall, and the thought of the coming winter, with its cold and lack of game and green things, made his heart heavy.

Yet it was still warm, and the sun was shining. The Creator watched the play of sunlight and shadow on the ground, the yellow leaves being carried here and there by the wind. He saw the blueness of the sky, the whiteness of some cornmeal ground by the women. Suddenly he smiled.
"All those colors, they ought to be preserved. I'll make something to gladden my heart, something for these children to look at and enjoy."

The Creator took out his bag and started gathering things: a spot of sunlight, a handful of blue from the sky, the whiteness of the cornmeal, the shadow of playing children, the blackness of a beautiful girl's hair, the yellow of the falling leaves, the green of the pine needles, the red, purple, and orange of the flowers around him. All these he put into his bag.
As an afterthought, he put the songs of the birds in, too.

Then he walked over to the grassy spot where the children were playing.
"Children, little children, this is for you," and he gave them his bag. "Open it; there's something nice inside," he told them.

The children opened the bag, and at once hundreds and hundreds of colored butterflies flew out, dancing around the children's heads, settling on their hair, fluttering up again to sip from this or that flower. And the children, enchanted, said that they had never seen anything so beautiful.

The butterflies began to sing, and the children listened smiling.

But then a songbird came flying, settling on the Creator's shoulder, scolding him, saying:
"It's not right to give our songs to these new, pretty things. You told us when you made us that every bird would have his own song. And now you've passed them all around. Isn't it enough that you gave your new playthings the colors of the rainbow?"
"You're right," said the Creator. "I made one song for each bird, and I shouldn't have taken what belongs to you."

So the Creator took the songs away from the butterflies, and that's why they are silent.
"They're beautiful even so!" he said.



Puget Sound Indian Lore:



In the Beginning of the Nisqually World

Long, long ago, some of the Puget Sound Indians used to say, people on the earth became so numerous that they ate all the fish and game. Then they began to eat each other. Soon they became worse than the wild animals had been. They became so very wicked that Dokibatl, the Changer, sent a flood upon the earth. All living things were destroyed except one woman and one dog. They fled to the top of Taco bud and stayed there until the flood left the earth.

From the woman and the dog were born the next race of people. They walked on four legs and lived in holes in the ground. They ate fern roots and camass bulbs, which they dug with their fingers because they had no tools. Having no fire and no clothing, they suffered from both the heat and the cold.

Their troubles were made worse when a giant bear came up from the south. The bear was huge and strong and also had special powers. With his eyes he cast a spell upon whatever creature he wanted to eat. Then that creature was unable to move, and the bear ate him. The people had no weapons. So the bear was about to eat all of them.

At last the Changer sent a Spirit Man over the mountains from the east. His face was like the sun. His voice was like the voice of Thunderbird. He came armed with bow, arrows, and spear. And he had great powers.

"Why do you weep?" he asked the people.

"We weep because of the bear,' they answered. "The beast is about to destroy us. None of us can escape from him."

The Spirit Man did not promise to help them, but he did show them how to walk on two feet. And he told them that there were two powerful spirits. "One of them is good; the other is evil. The Good Spirit sent me to you."

Then he returned to the mountains to talk with the Good Spirit, the Changer. When the Spirit Man came to the people a second time, he brought many strange gifts and stayed for many moons.

First he called all the people together for a big potlatch, the first potlatch of all the Indians. He told them that a potlatch is a big feast and gift-giving celebration. To the young men, the Spirit Man gave bows, arrows, and spears, and he taught all the young men how to use them.. To the old men, he gave canoes. He showed them how to make canoes from cedar trees, how to make fishing spears and nets, and how to fish from the canoes.

The Spirit Man taught the girls how to make skirts from the inner bark of the cedar tree, how to paint their faces and oil their hair so they were more beautiful, and how to sing. He showed the older women how to dig camass roots with the sticks he brought them, and how to make baskets out of cedar bark and seaweed. He showed them how to make fire by rubbing two sticks together, how to cook, how to carry burdens by strapping them across the head. "You will serve man and be useful to him in these ways," the Spirit Man told the women. "He will be your master."

Then the Spirit Man filled himself with strong powers, for his next task was to kill the giant bear. First he put seven arrows into his bag. He called together the men of the tribe, and for one whole sun the group chanted over the arrows to make them strong with spirit power.

Then the Spirit Man took one arrow and pushed it into the ground in the center of the plain west of Taco bud. After walking half a day toward the lodge of the great bear, he pushed a second arrow into the ground. He walked for another half day toward the bears' den and pushed a third arrow into the ground. Thus he kept on until he had placed six arrows erect and in a straight line. With the seventh arrow in his hand, the Spirit Man went up to the bear. The beast tried to cast a spell from his eyes, but the Spirit Man's spirit powers were so strong that the bear could have no effect on him. He shot the seventh arrow into the beast and then ran back to the sixth arrow. The bear followed him. He shot the sixth arrow and then ran back to the fifth. The bear followed him.

They kept running until they reached the first arrow. The Spirit Man shot the first arrow into the heart of the beast and killed him. There the great bear died, in the middle of the Nisqually plain.

All the people were glad when they gathered together near the dead beast that had frightened them for so long. They removed the skin and divided it equally among the different branches of the tribe. The bear was so huge that the skin of one ear covered the whole of Mound Prairie.

The last thing the Spirit Man did for the people on this journey to their land was to make a large building with just one opening. In this big house he placed all the diseases and evil deeds known to the world since then. Then he called a certain family to him and made them guardians of the building. What was in the house he told only to the head of the family.

"You and your children and grandchildren will take care of this house forever," the Spirit Man said. "Remember that the door must never be opened. And remember that only the head man of the family is ever to know what is in the building."

After many years, the only members of the family left were an old man and his wife and daughter. One day, when her father and mother went away from the house, the daughter saw her chance to peek into the Spirit Man's house. She had long wanted to see what was behind that door.

So she undid the fastenings and pushed back the door a little distance. Out rushed all the creatures of the house--all the diseases and evil deeds that have been in the world ever since.

The Changer was so angry with the daughter that he created the demon Seato. Seatco's home is among the rocks in the distant mountains. He sleeps by day. At night he flies over the earth to seize any woman found away from her home..


Quinault Indian Lore:



The Dog-husband

A long time ago, in a certain village there lived a young girl who had a dog of which she was very fond. She took the dog with her wherever she went; and at night, as was a common custom at that time with young girls, the dog slept at the foot of her bed. Every night he would change into human form and lie with the girl, and in the morning, before it was light, would turn back again into his dog shape: so no one knew anything about it. After a time she became pregnant; and when her parents found out and knew that the dog was the cause, they were greatly ashamed, and, calling the people together, they tore down the house, put out all the fires, and moved away from the place, leaving the girl to die.

But Crow had pity on her, and, taking some coals, she placed them between two clamshells and told the girl secretly that after a time she would hear a crackling, and to go to the spot and she would find fire. So the girl was left alone, for the people had all gone a long way across the water. She sat still for a long time, listening for the crackling, and when she finally hear it she went to the place and found the fire as Crow had said.

Not long after this she gave birth to five dog pups, but as her father had killed the dog, her lover, she had to look after them by herself, and the only way she could live and care for them was to gather clams and other shellfish on the beach.

There were four male pups and one female, and with the care their mother gave them, they grew very fast. Soon she noticed that whenever she went out, she heard a noise of singing and dancing, which seemed to come from the house, and she wondered, and when, on going out again, she heard it for the fifth time, she took her clam-digger and stuck it in the sand, and put her clothes on it to make it look as if she were busy gathering clams. Then she stole back by a roundabout way, and creeping close to the house peeped in through a crack to see what the noise might be. There she saw four boys dancing and singing, and a little girl watching the place where the mother was supposed to be digging clams. The mother waited a moment and watched, and coming in she caught them in human form, and scolded them, saying that they ought to have had than form in the first place, for on their account she had been brought to shame before the people. At this the children sat down and were ashamed. And the mother tore down the dog blankets which were hanging about, and threw them in the fire.

So they remained in human form after this;; and as soon as they were old enough she made little bows and arrows for the boys, and taught them how to shoot birds, beginning with the wren, and working up to the largest. Then she taught them to make large bows and arrows, and how to shoot fur animals, and then larger game, up to the elk. And she made them bathe every day to try to get tamanous [power?]for catching whales, and after that they hunted the hair seal to make floats of its skin. And the mother made harpoons for them of elk bone, and lines of twisted sinews and cedar, and the end of the line she fastened the sealskin floats. And when everything was ready, the boys went out whaling and were very successful, and brought in so many whales that the whole beach stank with them.

Now, Crow noticed one day, from far across the water, a great smoke rising from where the old village had stood, and that night she came over secretly to see what it all meant. And before she neared the beach, she smelled the dead whales, and when she came up she saw the carcasses lying all about, and there were so many that some of them had not yet been cut up. When she reached the house, she found the children grown up, and they welcomed her and gave her food, all she could eat, but graving her nothing to take back, telling her to come over again if she wanted more.

When Crow started back, the girl told her that when she reached home, she was to weep so that the people would believe they were dead. But Crow, on getting home, instead of doing as she was told, described how the beach was governed with sea gulls feeding on the whales that had been killed by the boys.

Now, Crow had brought with her secretly a piece of whale meat for her children, and, after putting out the light, she fed it to them; and one of them ate so fast that she choked, and coughed a piece of eat out on the ground. And some of the people saw i, and then believed what Crow had told them, as they had not done before. Then the people talked it all over, and decided to go back, and they loaded their canoes and moved to the old village. And the boys became the chiefs of the village, and always kept the people supplied with whales.