Blackfeet Indian Stories
by George Bird Grinnell
1  2  3     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Transcriber's Note:

Many Blackfeet names and words in the printed book from which this e-text is taken had vowels with breves or macrons over them, diacritical marks that cannot be reproduced in this e-text. The first time such a word appears within a story the marks are represented using x for a vowel with a macron and x for a vowel with a breve (example: Mā-mĭn'). Subsequent appearances of the word do not have the vowels so marked.




Author of Blackfeet Lodge Tales, Trails Of The Pathfinders, etc.



Those who wish to know something about how the people lived who told these stories will find their ways of life described in the last chapter of this book.

The Blackfeet were hunters, travelling from place to place on foot. They used implements of stone, wood, or bone, wore clothing made of skins, and lived in tents covered by hides. Dogs, their only tame animals, were used as beasts of burden to carry small packs and drag light loads.

The stories here told come down to us from very ancient times. Grandfathers have told them to their grandchildren, and these again to their grandchildren, and so from mouth to mouth, through many generations, they have reached our time.




Once, a long time ago, the antelope and the deer happened to meet on the prairie. They spoke together, giving each other the news, each telling what he had seen and done. After they had talked for a time the antelope told the deer how fast he could run, and the deer said that he could run fast too, and before long each began to say that he could run faster than the other. So they agreed that they would have a race to decide which could run the faster, and on this race they bet their galls. When they started, the antelope ran ahead of the deer from the very start and won the race and so took the deer's gall.

But the deer began to grumble and said, "Well, it is true that out here on the prairie you have beaten me, but this is not where I live. I only come out here once in a while to feed or to cross the prairie when I am going somewhere. It would be fairer if we had a race in the timber. That is my home, and there I can run faster than you. I am sure of it."

The antelope felt so glad and proud that he had beaten the deer in the race that he was sure that wherever they might run he could beat him, so he said, "All right, I will run you a race in the timber. I have beaten you out here on the flat and I can beat you there." On this race they bet their dew-claws.

They started and ran this race through the thick timber, among the bushes, and over fallen logs, and this time the antelope ran slowly, for he was afraid of hitting himself against the trees or of falling over the logs. You see, he was not used to this kind of travelling. So the deer easily beat him and took his dew-claws.

Since that time the deer has had no gall and the antelope no dew-claws.


A long time ago there was a man who had two wives. They were not good women; they did not look after their home nor try to keep things comfortable there. If the man brought in plenty of buffalo cow skins they did not tan them well, and often when he came home at night, hungry and tired after his hunting, he had no food, for these women would be away from the lodge, visiting their relations and having a good time.

The man thought that if he moved away from the big camp and lived alone where there were no other people perhaps he might teach these women to become good; so he moved his lodge far off on the prairie and camped at the foot of a high butte.

Every evening about sundown the man used to climb up to the top of this butte and sit there and look all over the country to see where the buffalo were feeding and whether any enemies were moving about. On top of the hill there was a buffalo skull, on which he used to sit.

One day one of the women said to the other, "It is very lonely here; we have no one to talk with or to visit."

"Let us kill our husband," said the other: "then we can go back to our relations and have a good time."

Early next morning the man set out to hunt, and as soon as he was out of sight his wives went up on top of the butte where he used to sit. There they dug a deep hole and covered it over with light sticks and grass and earth, so that it looked like the other soil near by, and placed the buffalo skull on the sticks which covered the hole.

In the afternoon, as they watched for their returning husband, they saw him come over the hill loaded down with meat that he had killed. When he threw down his load outside the lodge, they hurried to cook something for him. After he had eaten he went up on the butte and sat down on the skull. The slender sticks broke and he fell into the hole. His wives were watching him, and when they saw him disappear, they took down the lodge and packed their dogs and set out to go to the main camp. As they drew near it, so that people could hear them, they began to cry and mourn.

Soon some people came to meet them and said, "What is this? Why are you mourning? Where is your husband?"

"Ah," they replied, "he is dead. Five days ago he went out to hunt and he did not come back. What shall we do? We have lost him who cared for us"; and they cried and mourned again.

Now, when the man fell into the pit he was hurt, for the hole was deep. After a time he tried to climb out, but he was so badly bruised that he could not do so. He sat there and waited, thinking that here he must surely die of hunger.

But travelling over the prairie was a wolf that climbed up on the butte and came to the hole and, looking in, saw the man and pitied him.

"Ah-h-w-o-o-o! Ah-h-w-o-o-o-o!" he howled, and when the other wolves heard him they all came running to see what was the matter. Following the big wolves came also many coyotes, badgers, and kit-foxes. They did not know what had happened, but they thought perhaps there was food here.

To the others the wolf said, "Here in this hole is what I have found. Here is a man who has fallen in. Let us dig him out and we will have him for our brother."

All the wolves thought that this talk was good, and they began to dig, and before very long they had dug a hole down almost to the bottom of the pit.

Then the wolf who had found the man said, "Hold on; wait a little; I want to say a few words." All the animals stopped digging and began to listen, and the wolf said, "We will all have this man for our brother; but I found him, and so I think he ought to live with us big wolves." All the others thought that this was good, and the wolf that had found the man went into the hole that had been dug, and tearing down the rest of the earth, dragged out the poor man, who was now almost dead, for he had neither eaten nor drunk anything since he fell in the hole. They gave the man a kidney to eat, and when he was able to walk the big wolves took him to their home. Here there was a very old blind wolf who had great power and could do wonderful things. He cured the man and made his head and his hands look like those of a wolf. The rest of his body was not changed.

In those days the people used to make holes in the walls of the fence about the enclosure into which they led the buffalo. They set snares over these holes, and when wolves and other animals crept through them so as to get into the pen and feed on the meat they were caught by the neck and killed, and the people used their skins for clothing.

One night all the wolves went down to the pen to get meat, and when they had come close to it, the man-wolf said to his brothers, "Stop here for a little while and I will go down and fix the places so that you will not be caught." He went down to the pen and sprung all the snares, and then went back and called the wolves and the others—the coyotes, badgers, and kit-foxes—and they all went into the pen and feasted and took meat to carry home to their families. In the morning the people found the meat gone and all their snares sprung, and they were surprised and wondered how this could have happened. For many nights the nooses were pulled tight and the meat taken; but once when the wolves went there to eat they found only the meat of a lean and sickly bull. Then the man-wolf was angry, and he cried out like a wolf, "Bad-food-you-give-us-o-o-o! Bad-food-you-give-us-o-o-o-o!"

When the people heard this they said to one another, "Ah, it is a man-wolf who has done all this. We must catch him." So they took down to the piskun[1] pemmican and nice back fat and placed it there, and many of them hid close by. After dark the wolves came, as was their custom, and when the man-wolf saw the good food, he ran to it and began to eat. Then the people rushed upon him from every side and caught him with ropes, and tied him and took him to a lodge, and when they had brought him inside to the light of the fire, at once they knew who it was. They said, "Why, this is the man who was lost."

[Footnote 1: A pen or enclosure, usually—among the Blackfeet—at the foot of a cliff, over which the buffalo were induced to jump. Pronounced pĭ'skŭn.]

"No," said the man, "I was not lost. My wives tried to kill me. They dug a deep hole and I fell into it, and I was hurt so badly I could not get out; but the wolves took pity on me and helped me or I would have died there."

When the people heard this they were angry, and they told the man to do something to punish these women.

"You say well," he replied; "I give those women to the punishing society. They know what to do."

After that night the two women were never seen again.


As the children whose ancestors came from Europe have stories about the heroes who killed wicked and cruel monsters—like Jack the Giant Killer, for example—so the Indian children hear stories about persons who had magic power and who went about the world destroying those who treated cruelly or killed the Indians of the camps. Such a hero was Kŭt-o-yĭs', and this is how he came to be alive and to travel about from place to place, helping the people and destroying their enemies.

It was long, long ago, down where Two Medicine and Badger Rivers come together, that an old man lived with his wife and three daughters. One day there came to his camp a young man, good-looking, a good hunter, and brave. He stayed in the camp for some time, and whenever he went hunting he killed game and brought in great loads of meat.

All this time the old man was watching him, for he said in his heart, "This seems a good young man and a good hunter. Perhaps I will give him my daughters for wives, and then he will stay here and help me always."

After a time the old man decided to do this, and he gave the young man his daughters; and because these three were his only children he gave his son-in-law his dogs and all his property, and for himself and his wife he kept only a little lodge. The young man's wives tanned plenty of cow skins and made a big fine lodge, and in this the son-in-law lived with his wives.

For some time after this the son-in-law was very good and kind to the old people. When he killed any animal he gave them part of the meat, and gave them skins which his mother-in-law tanned for robes or for clothing.

As time went on the son-in-law began to grow stingy, and pretty soon he gave nothing to his father-in-law's lodge, but kept everything for his own.

Now, the son-in-law was a person of much mysterious power, and he kept the buffalo hidden under a big log-jam in the river. Whenever he needed food and wished to kill anything, he would take his father-in-law with him to help. He would send the old man out to stamp on the log-jam and frighten the buffalo, and when they ran out from under it the young man would shoot one or two with his arrows, never killing more than he needed. But often he gave the old people nothing at all to eat. They were hungry all the time, and at length they began to grow thin and weak.

One morning early the young man asked his father-in-law to come and hunt with him. They went to the log-jam and the old man drove out the buffalo and his son-in-law killed a fat buffalo cow. Then he said to his father-in-law, "Hurry back now to the camp and tell your daughters to come and carry home the meat, and then you can have something to eat." The old man set out for the camp, thinking, as he walked along, "Now, at last, my son-in-law has taken pity on me; he will give me some of this meat."

When he returned with his daughters they skinned the cow and cut it up and, carrying it, went home. The young man had his wives leave the meat at his own lodge and told his father-in-law to go home. He did not give him even a little piece of the meat. The two older daughters gave their parents nothing to eat, but sometimes the youngest one had pity on them and took a piece of meat and, when she could, threw it into the lodge to the old people. The son-in-law had told his wives not to give the old people anything to eat. Except for the good heart of the youngest daughter they would have died of hunger.

Another day the son-in-law rose early in the morning and went over to the old man's lodge and kicked against the poles, calling to him, "Get up now and help me; I want you to go and stamp on the log-jam to drive out the buffalo." When the old man moved his feet on the jam and a buffalo ran out, the son-in-law was not ready for it, and it passed by him before he shot the arrow; so he only wounded it. It ran away, but at last it fell down and died.

The old man followed close after it, and as he ran along he came to a place where a great clot of blood had fallen from the buffalo's wound. When he came to where this clot of blood was lying on the ground, he stumbled and fell and spilled his arrows out of his quiver, and while he was picking them up he picked up also the clot of blood and hid it in his quiver.

"What are you picking up?" called the son-in-law.

"Nothing," replied the old man. "I fell down and spilled my arrows, and I am putting them back."

"Ah, old man," said the son-in-law, "you are lazy and useless. You no longer help me. Go back now to the camp and tell your daughters to come down here and help carry in this meat."

The old man went to the camp and told his daughters of the meat that their husband had killed, and they went down to the killing ground. Then he went to his own lodge and said to his wife, "Hurry, now, put the stone kettle on the fire. I have brought home something from the killing."

"Ah," said the old woman, "has our son-in-law been generous and given us something nice to eat?"

"No," replied the old man, "but hurry and put the kettle on the fire."

After a time the water began to boil and the old man turned his quiver upside down over the pot, and immediately there came from it a sound of a child crying, as if it were being hurt. The old people both looked in the kettle and there they saw a little boy, and they quickly took him out of the water. They were surprised and did not know where the child had come from. The old woman wrapped the child up and wound a line about its wrappings to keep them in place, making a lashing for the child. Then they talked about it, wondering what should be done with it. They thought that if their son-in-law knew it was a boy he would kill it; so they determined to tell their daughters that the baby was a girl, for then their son-in-law would think that he was going to have another wife. So he would be glad. They called the child Kut-o-yis'—Clot of Blood.

The son-in-law and his wives came home, bringing the meat, and after a little time they heard the child in the next lodge crying. The son-in-law said to his youngest wife, "Go over to your mother's and see whether that baby is a boy or a girl. If it is a boy, tell your parents to kill it."

Soon the young woman came back and said to her husband, "It is a girl baby. You are to have another wife."

The son-in-law did not know whether to believe this, and sent his oldest wife to ask the same question. When she came back and told him the same thing he believed that it was really a girl. Then he was glad, for he said to himself, "Now, when this child has grown up, I shall have another wife." He said to his youngest wife, "Take some back fat and pemmican over to your mother; she must be well fed now that she has to nurse this child."

On the fourth day after he had been born the child spoke and said to his mother, "Hold me in turn to each one of these lodge poles, and when I come to the last one I shall fall out of my lashings and be grown up." The old woman did as he had said, and as she held him to one pole after another he could be seen to grow; and finally when he was held to the last pole he was a man.

After Kut-o-yis' had looked about the lodge he put his eye to a hole in the lodge-covering and looked out. Then he turned around and said to the old people, "How is it that in this lodge there is nothing to eat? Over by the other lodge I see plenty of food hanging up."

"Hush," said the old woman, raising her hand, "you will be heard. Our son-in-law lives over there. He does not give us anything at all to eat."

"Well," said the young man, "where is your piskun—where do you kill buffalo?"

"It is down by the river," the old woman answered. "We pound on it and the buffalo run out."

For some time they talked together and the old man told Kut-o-yis' how his son-in-law had abused him. He said to the young man, "He has taken from me my bow and my arrows and has taken even my dogs; and now for many days we have had nothing to eat, except sometimes a small piece of meat that our daughter throws to us."

"Father," said Kut-o-yis', "have you no arrows?"

"No, my son," replied the old man, "but I still have four stone arrow points."

"Go out then," said Kut-o-yis', "and get some wood. We will make a bow and some arrows, and in the morning we will go down to where the buffalo are and kill something to eat."

Early in the morning Kut-o-yis' pushed the old man and said, "Come, get up now, and we will go down and kill, when the buffalo come out." It was still very early in the morning.

When they reached the river the old man said, "This is the place to stand and shoot. I will go down and drive them out."

He went down and stamped on the log-jam, and presently a fat cow ran out and Kut-o-yis' killed it.

Now, after these two had gone to the river the son-in-law arose and went over to the old man's lodge, and knocked on the poles and called to the old man to get up and help him kill. The old woman called out to the son-in-law, saying, "Your father-in-law has already gone down to the piskun." This made the son-in-law angry, and he began to talk badly to the old woman and to threaten to harm her.

Presently he went on down to the log-jam, and as he got near the place he saw the old man at work there, bending over, skinning a buffalo; for Kut-o-yis', when he had seen the son-in-law coming, had lain down on the ground and hidden himself behind the carcass.

When the son-in-law had come pretty close to where the buffalo lay he said to his father-in-law, "Old man, stand up and look all about you. Look carefully and well, for it will be the last time that you will ever see anything"; and while the son-in-law said this he took an arrow from his quiver.

Kut-o-yis' spoke to the old man from his hiding-place and said, "Tell your son-in-law that he must take his last look, for that you are going to kill him now." The old man said this as he had been told.

"Ah," said the son-in-law, "you talk back to me. That makes me still angrier at you." He put an arrow on the string and shot at the old man, but did not hit him. Kut-o-yis' said to the old man, "Pick up that arrow and shoot it back at him"; and the old man did so. Now, they shot at each other four times, and then the old man said to Kut-o-yis', "I am afraid now; get up and help me. If you do not, I think he will kill me." Then Kut-o-yis' rose to his feet and said to the son-in-law, "Here, what are you doing? I think you have been treating this old man badly for a long time. Why do you do it?"

"Oh no," said the son-in-law, and he smiled at Kut-o-yis' in a friendly way, for he was afraid of him. "Oh no; no one thinks more of this old man than I do. I have always been very good to him."

"No," said Kut-o-yis'. "You are saying what is not true, and I am going to kill you now."

Kut-o-yis' shot the son-in-law four times and he fell down and died. Then the young man told his father to go and bring down to him the daughters who had acted badly toward him. The old man did so and Kut-o-yis' punished them. Then he went up to the lodges and said to the youngest woman, "Did you love your husband?" "Yes," said the girl, "I loved him." So Kut-o-yis' punished her too, but not so badly as he had the other daughters, because she had been kind to her parents.

To the old people he said, "Go over now to that lodge and live there. There is plenty of food, and when that is gone I will kill more. As for me, I shall make a journey. Tell me where there are any people. In what direction shall I go to find a camp?"

"Well," said the old man, "up here on Two Medicine Lodge Creek there are some people—up where the piskun is, you know."

Kut-o-yis' followed up the stream to where the piskun was and there found many lodges of people. In the centre of the camp was a big lodge, and painted on it the figure of a bear. He did not go to this lodge, but went into a small lodge where two old women lived. When he had sat down they put food before him—lean dried meat and some belly fat.

"How is this, grandmothers?" he said. "Here is a camp with plenty of fat meat and back fat hanging up to dry; why do you not give me some of that?"

"Hush; be careful," said the old women. "In that big lodge over there lives a big bear and his wives and children. He takes all the best food and leaves us nothing. He is the chief of this place."

Early in the morning Kut-o-yis' said to the old women, "Harness up your dogs to the travois now and go over to the piskun, and I will kill some fat meat for you."

When they got there, he killed a fat cow and helped the old women to cut it up, and they took it to the lodge. One of those old women said, "Ah me, the bears will be sure to come."

"Why do you say that?" he asked.

They said to him, "We shall be sorry to lose this back fat."

"Do not fear," he said. "No one shall take this back fat from you. Now, take all those best pieces and hang them up, so that those who live in the bear lodge may see them."

They did so. Pretty soon the old bear chief said to one of his children, "By this time I think the people have finished killing. Go out now and look about; see where the nicest pieces are, and bring in some nice back fat."

One of the young bears went out of the lodge and stood up and looked about, and when it saw this meat hanging by the old women's lodge close by, it went over toward it.

"Ah," said the old women, "there are those bears."

"Do not be afraid," said Kut-o-yis'.

The young bear went over to where the meat was hanging and stood up and began to pull it down. Kut-o-yis' went out of the lodge and said, "Wait; wait! What are you doing, taking the old women's meat?"

The young bear answered, "My father told me that I should go out and get this meat and bring it home to him."

Kut-o-yis' hit the young bear over the head with a stick and it ran home crying.

When it had reached the lodge it told what had happened and the father bear said, "I will go over there myself; perhaps this person will hit me over the head."

When the old women saw the father and mother bear and all their relations coming they were afraid, but Kut-o-yis' jumped out of the lodge and killed the bears one after another; all except one little she-bear, a very small one, which got away.

"Well," said Kut-o-yis', "you may go and breed more bears."

He told the old women to move over to the bear-painted lodge and after this to live in it. It was theirs.

To the old women Kut-o-yis' then said, "Now, grandmothers, where are there any more people? I want to travel about and see them."

The old women said, "At the Point of Rocks—on Sun River—there is a camp. There is a piskun there."

So Kut-o-yis' set off for that place, and when he came to the camp he went into an old woman's lodge.

The old woman gave him something to eat—a dish of bad food.

"Why is this, grandmother?" asked Kut-o-yis'. "Have you no food better than this to give to a visitor? Down there I see a piskun; you must kill plenty of buffalo and must have good food."

"Speak lower," said the old woman, "or you may be heard. We have no good food because there is a great snake here who is the chief of the camp. He takes all the best pieces. He lives over there in that snake-painted lodge."

The next morning when the buffalo were led in, Kut-o-yis' killed one, and they took the back fat and carried it to their lodge. Then Kut-o-yis' said, "I think I will visit that snake person." He went over and went into the lodge, and there he saw many women that the snake person had taken to be his wives. The women were cooking some service berries. Kut-o-yis' picked up the dish and ate the berries and threw the dish away. Then he went up to the big snake, who was lying there asleep, and pricked him with his knife, saying, "Here, get up; I have come to visit you. Let us smoke together."

Then the snake was angry and he raised up his head and began to rattle, and Kut-o-yis' cut off his head and cut him in pieces. He cut off the heads of all the snake's wives and children; all except one little female snake which got away by crawling into a crack in the rocks.

"Oh, well," said Kut-o-yis', "you can go and breed snakes so there will be more. The people will not be afraid of little snakes."

Kut-o-yis' said to the old woman, "Now, grandmother, go into this snake lodge and take it for your own and everything that is in it."

Then he said to them, "Where are there some more people?" They told him there were some camps down the river and some up in the mountains, but they said, "Do not go up there. It is bad because there lives Āi-sīn'-o-kō-kī—Wind Sucker. He will kill you."

Kut-o-yis' was glad to know that there was such a person, and he went to the mountains.

When he reached the place where Wind Sucker lived, he looked into his mouth and saw there many dead people. Some were skeletons and some had only just died. He went in, and there he saw a fearful sight. The ground was white as snow with the bones of those who had died. There were bodies with flesh on them; some who had died not long before and some who were still living.

As he looked about, he saw hanging down above him a great thing that seemed to move—to grow a little larger and then to grow a little smaller.

Kut-o-yis' spoke to one of the people who was alive and asked, "What is that hanging down above us?"

The person answered him, "That is Wind Sucker's heart."

Then Kut-o-yis' spoke to all the living and said to them, "You who still draw a little breath try to move your heads in time to the song that I shall sing; and you who are still able to move stand up on your feet and dance. Take courage now; we are going to dance to the ghosts."

Then Kut-o-yis' tied his knife, point upward, to the top of his head and began to dance, singing the ghost song, and all the others danced with him; and as he danced up and down he kept springing higher and higher into the air, and the point of his knife cut Wind Sucker's heart and killed him.

Then Kut-o-yis', with his knife, cut a hole between Wind Sucker's ribs, and he and all those who were able to move crawled out through the hole. He said to those who could still walk that they should go and tell their people to come here, to get the ones still alive but unable to travel.

To some of these people that he had freed he said, "Where are there any other people? I want to visit all the people."

"There is a camp to the westward, up the river," they replied; "but you must not take the left-hand trail going up because on that trail lives a woman who invites men to wrestle with her and then kills them. Avoid her."

Now, really, this was what Kut-o-yis' was looking for. This was what he was doing in the world, trying to kill off all the bad things. He asked these people just where this woman lived and how it was best for him to go so that he should not meet her. He did this because he did not wish the people to know that he was going where she was.

He started, and after he had travelled some time he saw a woman standing not far from the trail. She called to him, saying, "Come here, young man, come here; I want to wrestle with you."

"No," he replied, "I am in a hurry; I cannot stop."

The woman called again, "No, no; do not go on; come now and wrestle once with me."

After she had called him the fourth time, Kut-o-yis' went to her.

Now on the ground where this woman wrestled with people she had placed many sharp, broken flint-stones, partly hiding them by the grass. The two seized each other and began to wrestle over these sharp stones, but Kut-o-yis' looked at the ground and did not step on them. He watched his chance and gave the woman a quick wrench, and threw her down on a large sharp flint which cut her in two; and the parts of her body fell asunder.

Kut-o-yis' then went on, and after a time came to where a woman had made a place for sliding downhill. At the far end of it she had fixed a rope which, when she raised it, would trip people up, and when they were tripped they fell over a high cliff into a deep water, where a great fish ate them.

When this woman saw Kut-o-yis' coming she cried out to him, "Come over here, young man, and slide with me."

"No," he replied, "I am in a hurry; I cannot wait." She kept calling to him, and when she had called him the fourth time he went over where he was to slide with her.

"This sliding," said the woman, "is very good fun."

"Ah, yes," said Kut-o-yis', "I will look at it."

As he went near the place he looked carefully and saw the hidden rope. He began to slide, and holding his knife in his hand, when he reached the rope he cut it just as the woman raised it and pulled on it, and the woman fell over backward into the water and was eaten up by the big fish.

From here he went on again, and after a time he came to a big camp. A man-eater was the chief of this place.

Before Kut-o-yis' went to the chief's lodge he looked about and saw a little girl and called her to him and said, "Child, I am going into that lodge, to let that man-eater kill and eat me. Therefore, be on the watch, and if you can get hold of one of my bones take it out and call all the dogs to you, and when they have come to you throw down the bone and say, 'Kut-o-yis', the dogs are eating your bones.'"

Then Kut-o-yis' entered the lodge, and when the man-eater saw him he called out, "Oki, oki!" (welcome, welcome!) and seemed glad to see him, for he was a fat young man. The man-eater took a knife and walked up to Kut-o-yis' and cut his throat and put him into a great stone pot to cook. When the meat was cooked he pulled the kettle from the fire and ate the body, limb by limb, until it was all eaten.

After that the little girl who was watching came into the lodge and said, "Pity me, man-eater, my mother is hungry and asks you for those bones." The old man gathered them together and handed them to her, and she took them out of the lodge. When she had gone a little way, she called all the dogs to her and threw down the bones to the dogs, crying out, "Look out, Kut-o-yis', the dogs are eating you," and when she said that, Kut-o-yis' arose from the pile of bones.

Again he went into the lodge, and when the man-eater saw him he cried out, "How, how, how! the fat young man has survived!" and he seemed surprised. Again he took his knife and cut the throat of Kut-o-yis' and threw him into the kettle. Again when the meat was cooked he ate it, and when the little girl asked for the bones again he gave them to her. She took them out and threw them to the dogs, crying, "Kut-o-yis', the dogs are eating you," and again Kut-o-yis' arose from the bones.

When the man-eater had cooked him four times Kut-o-yis' again went into the lodge, and seizing the man-eater, he threw him into the boiling kettle, and his wives and all his children, and boiled them to death.

The man-eater was the seventh and last of the bad things to be destroyed by Kut-o-yis'.


This happened long ago.

In those days the people were hungry. No buffalo could be found, no antelope were seen on the prairie. Grass grew in the trails where the elk and the deer used to travel. There was not even a rabbit in the brush. Then the people prayed, "Oh, Napi, help us now or we must die. The buffalo and the deer are gone. It is useless to kindle the morning fires; our arrows are useless to us; our knives remain in their sheaths."

Then Napi set out to find where the game was, and with him went a young man, the son of a chief. For many days they travelled over the prairies. They could see no game; roots and berries were their only food. One day they climbed to the crest of a high ridge, and as they looked off over the country they saw far away by a stream a lonely lodge.

"Who can it be?" asked the young man. "Who camps there alone, far from friends?"

"That," said Napi, "is he who has hidden all the animals from the people. He has a wife and a little son." Then they went down near to the lodge and Napi told the young man what to do. Napi changed himself into a little dog, and he said, "This is I." The young man changed himself into a root digger and he said, "This is I." Pretty soon the little boy, who was playing about near the lodge, found the dog and carried it to his father, saying, "See what a pretty little dog I have found."

The father said, "That is not a dog; throw it away!" The little boy cried, but his father made him take the dog out of the lodge. Then the boy found the root digger, and again picking up the dog, he carried both into the lodge, saying, "Look, mother; see what a pretty root digger I have found."

"Throw them away," said his father; "throw them both away. That is not a root digger; that is not a dog."

"I want that root digger," said the woman. "Let our son have the little dog."

"Let it be so, then," replied the husband; "but remember that if trouble comes, it is you who have brought it on yourself and on our son."

Soon after this the woman and her son went off to pick berries, and when they were out of sight the man went out and killed a buffalo cow and brought the meat into the lodge and covered it up. He took the bones and the skin and threw them in the water. When his wife came back he gave her some of the meat to roast, and while they were eating, the little boy fed the dog three times, and when he offered it more the father took the meat away.

In the night, when all were sleeping, Napi and the young man arose in their right shapes and ate some of the meat.

"You were right," said the young man. "This is surely the person who has hidden the buffalo."

"Wait," said Napi; and when they had finished eating they changed themselves again into the root digger and the dog.

Next morning the wife and the little boy went out to dig roots, and the woman took the root digger with her, while the dog followed the little boy.

As they travelled along looking for roots, they passed near a cave, and at its mouth stood a buffalo cow. The dog ran into the cave, and the root digger, slipping from the woman's hand, followed, gliding along over the ground like a snake. In this cave were found all the buffalo and the other game. They began to drive them out, and soon the prairie was covered with buffalo, antelope, and deer. Never before were so many seen.

Soon the man came running up, and he said to his wife, "Who is driving out my animals?" The woman replied, "The dog and the root digger are in there now."

"Did I not tell you," said her husband, "that those were not what they looked like. See now the trouble that you have brought upon us!" He put an arrow on his string and waited for them to come out, but they were cunning, and when the last animal, a big bull, was starting out the stick grasped him by the long hair under the neck and coiled up in it, and the dog held on by the hair underneath until they were far out on the prairie, when they changed into their true shapes and drove the buffalo toward the camp.

When the people saw the buffalo coming they led a big band of them to the piskun, but just as the leaders were about to jump over the cliff a raven came and flapped its wings in front of them and croaked, and they turned off and ran down another way. Every time a herd of buffalo was brought near to the piskun this raven frightened them away. Then Napi knew that the raven was the person who had kept the buffalo hidden.

Napi went down to the river and changed himself into a beaver and lay stretched out on a sandbar, as if dead. The raven was very hungry and flew down and began to pick at the beaver. Then Napi caught it by the legs and ran with it to the camp, and all the chiefs were called together to decide what should be done with the bird. Some said, "Let us kill it," but Napi said, "No, I will punish it," and he tied it up over the lodge, right in the smoke hole.

As the days went by the raven grew thin and weak and its eyes were blinded by the thick smoke, and it cried continually to Napi asking him to pity it. One day Napi untied the bird and told it to take its right shape, and then said, "Why have you tried to fool Napi? Look at me. I cannot die. Look at me. Of all peoples and tribes I am the chief. I cannot die. I made the mountains; they are standing yet. I made the prairies and the rocks; you see them yet.

"Go home now to your wife and your child, and when you are hungry hunt like any one else. If you do not, you shall die."


There was once a man who loved his wife dearly. After they had been married for a time they had a little boy. Some time after that the woman grew sick and did not get well. She was sick for a long time. The young man loved his wife so much that he did not wish to take a second woman. The woman grew worse and worse. Doctoring did not seem to do her any good. At last she died.

For a few days after this, the man used to take his baby on his back and travel out away from the camp, walking over the hills, crying and mourning. He felt badly, and he did not know what to do.

After a time he said to the little child, "My little boy, you will have to go and live with your grandmother. I shall go away and try to find your mother and bring her back."

He took the baby to his mother's lodge and asked her to take care of it and left it with her. Then he started away, not knowing where he was going nor what he should do.

When he left the camp, he travelled toward the Sand Hills. On the fourth night of his journeying he had a dream. He dreamed that he went into a little lodge in which was an old woman. This old woman said to him, "Why are you here, my son?"

The young man replied, "I am mourning day and night, crying all the while. My little son, who is the only one left me, also mourns."

"Well," asked the old woman, "for whom are you mourning?"

The young man answered, "I am mourning for my wife. She died some time ago. I am looking for her."

"Oh, I saw her," said the old woman; "she passed this way. I myself have no great power to help you, but over by that far butte beyond, lives another old woman. Go to her and she will give you power to continue your journey. You could not reach the place you are seeking without help. Beyond the next butte from her lodge you will find the camp of the ghosts."

The next morning the young man awoke and went on toward the next butte. It took him a long summer's day to get there, but he found there no lodge, so he lay down and slept. Again he dreamed. In his dream he saw a little lodge, and saw an old woman come to the door and heard her call to him. He went into the lodge, and she spoke to him.

"My son, you are very unhappy. I know why you have come this way. You are looking for your wife who is now in the ghost country. It is a very hard thing for you to get there. You may not be able to get your wife back, but I have great power and I will do for you all that I can. If you act as I advise, you may succeed."

Other wise words she spoke to him, telling him what he should do; also she gave him a bundle of mysterious things which would help him on his journey.

She went on to say, "You stay here for a time and I will go over there to the ghosts' camp and try to bring back some of your relations who are there. If it is possible for me to bring them back, you may return there with them, but on the way you must shut your eyes. If you should open them and look about you, you would die. Then you would never come back. When you come to the camp you will pass by a big lodge and they will ask you, 'Where are you going and who told you to come here?' You must answer, 'My grandmother, who is standing out here with me, told me to come.' They will try to scare you; they will make fearful noises and you will see strange and terrible things, but do not be afraid."

The old woman went away, and after a time came back with one of the man's relations. He went with this relation to the ghosts' camp. When they came to the large lodge some one called out and asked the man what he was doing there, and he answered as the old woman had told him. As he passed on through the camp the ghosts tried to frighten him with many fearful sights and sounds, but he kept up a strong heart.

Presently he came to another lodge, and the man who owned it came out and spoke to him, asking where he was going. The young man said, "I am looking for my dead wife. I mourn for her so much that I cannot rest. My little boy too keeps crying for his mother. They have offered to give me other wives, but I do not want them. I want the one for whom I am searching."

The ghost said, "It is a fearful thing that you have come here; it is very likely that you will never go away. Never before has there been a person here."

The ghost asked him to come into his lodge, and he entered.

This chief ghost said to him, "You shall stay here for four nights and you shall see your wife, but you must be very careful or you will never go back. You will die here in this very place."

Then the chief ghost walked out of the lodge and shouted out for a feast, inviting the man's father-in-law and other relations who were in the camp to come and eat, saying, "Your son-in-law invites you to a feast," as if he meant that the son-in-law had died and become a ghost and arrived at the camp of the ghosts.

Now when these invited ghosts had reached the lodge they did not like to go in. They said to each other, "There is a person here"; it seemed as if they did not like the smell of a human being. The chief ghost burned sweet pine on the fire, which took away this smell, and then the ghosts came in and sat down.

The chief ghost said to them, "Now pity this son-in-law of yours. He is looking for his wife. Neither the great distance that he has come nor the fearful sights that he has seen here have weakened his heart. You can see how tender-hearted he is. He not only mourns because he has lost his wife, but he mourns because his little boy is now alone, with no mother; so pity him and give him back his wife."

The ghosts talked among themselves, and one of them said to the man, "Yes; you shall stay here for four nights, and then we will give you a medicine pipe—the Worm Pipe—and we will give you back your wife and you may return to your home."

Now, after the third night the chief ghost called together all the people, and they came, and with them came the man's wife. One of the ghosts was beating a drum, and following him was another who carried the Worm Pipe, which they gave to him.

Then the chief ghost said, "Now be very careful; to-morrow you and your wife will start on your journey homeward. Your wife will carry the medicine pipe and for four days some of your relations will go along with you. During this time you must keep your eyes shut; do not open them, or you will return here and be a ghost forever. Your wife is not now a person. But in the middle of the fourth day you will be told to look, and when you have opened your eyes you will see that your wife has become a person, and that your ghost relations have disappeared."

Before the man went away his father-in-law spoke to him and said, "When you get near home you must not go at once into the camp. Let some of your relations know that you have come, and ask them to build a sweat-house for you. Go into that sweat-house and wash your body thoroughly, leaving no part of it, however small, uncleansed. If you fail in this, you will die. There is something about the ghosts that it is difficult to remove. It can only be removed by a thorough sweat. Take care now that you do what I tell you. Do not whip your wife, nor strike her with a knife, nor hit her with fire. If you do, she will vanish before your eyes and return here."

They left the ghost country to go home, and on the fourth day the wife said to her husband, "Open your eyes." He looked about him and saw that those who had been with them had disappeared, and he found that they were standing in front of the old woman's lodge by the butte. She came out of her lodge and said to them, "Stop; give me back those mysterious medicines of mine, whose power helped you to do what you wished." The man returned them to her, and then once more became really a living person.

When they drew near to the camp the woman went on ahead and sat down on a butte. Then some curious persons came out to see who this might be. As they approached the woman called out to them, "Do not come any nearer. Go and tell my mother and my relations to put up a lodge for us a little way from the camp, and near by it build a sweat-house." When this had been done the man and his wife went in and took a thorough sweat, and then they went into the lodge and burned sweet grass and purified their clothing and the Worm Pipe. Then their relations and friends came in to see them. The man told them where he had been and how he had managed to get his wife back, and that the pipe hanging over the doorway was a medicine pipe—the Worm Pipe—presented to him by his ghost father-in-law.

That is how the people came to possess the Worm Pipe. That pipe belongs to the band of Piegans known as the Worm People.

Not long after this, once in the night, this man told his wife to do something, and when she did not begin at once he picked up a brand from the fire and raised it—not that he intended to strike her with it, but he made as if he would—when all at once she vanished and was never seen again.


A small stone, which is often a fossil shell, or sometimes only a queer shaped piece of flint, is called by the Blackfeet I-nĭs'kĭm, the buffalo stone. This stone has great power, and gives its owner good luck in bringing the buffalo close, so that they may be killed. The stone is found on the prairie, and any one who finds one is thought to be very lucky. Sometimes a man who is going along on the prairie will hear a queer faint chirp, such as a little bird might make. He knows this sound is made by a buffalo stone. He stops and searches for it on the ground, and if he cannot find it, marks the place and comes back next day to look for it again. If it is found, he and all his family are glad. The Blackfeet tell a story about how the first buffalo stone was found.

Long ago, one winter, the buffalo disappeared. The snow was deep, so deep that the people could not move in search of the buffalo; so the hunters went as far as they could up and down the river-bottoms and in the ravines, and killed deer and elk and other small game, and when these were all killed or driven away the people began to starve.

One day a young married man killed a prairie rabbit. He ran home as fast as he could, and told one of his wives to hurry and get a skin of water to cook it. She started down to the river for water, and as she was going along she heard a beautiful song. She looked all about, but could see no one who was singing.

The song seemed to come from a big cotton-wood tree near the trail leading down to the water. As she looked closely at this tree she saw a queer stone jammed in a fork where the tree was split, and with it a few hairs from a buffalo which had rubbed against the tree. The woman was frightened and dared not pass the tree. Soon the singing stopped and the I-nis'kim said to the woman, "Take me to your lodge, and when it is dark call in the people and teach them the song you have just heard. Pray, too, that you may not starve, and that the buffalo may come back. Do this, and when day comes your hearts will be glad."

The woman went on and got the water, and when she came back she took the stone and gave it to her husband, telling him about the song and what the stone had said.

As soon as it was dark, the man called the chiefs and old men to his lodge, and his wife taught them the song that she had heard. They prayed too, as the stone had said should be done. Before long they heard far off a noise coming. It was the tramp of a great herd of buffalo. Then they knew that the stone was powerful, and since that time the people have taken care of it and have prayed to it.


You have heard the Thunder, for he is everywhere. He roars in the mountains, and far out on the prairie is heard his crashing. He strikes the high rocks, and they fall to pieces; a tree, and it is broken in slivers; the people, and they die. He is bad. He does not like the high cliff, the standing tree, or living man. He likes to strike and crush them to the ground. Of all things he is the most powerful. He cannot be resisted. But I have not told you the worst thing about him. Sometimes he takes away women.

Long ago, almost in the beginning, a man and his wife were sitting in their lodge when Thunder came and struck them. The man was not killed. At first he lay as if dead, but after a time he lived again, and, standing up, looked about him. He did not see his wife.

"Oh," he thought, "she has gone to get wood or water," and he sat down again. But when night came he went out of the lodge and asked the people about her. No one had seen her. He looked all through the camp, but could not find her. Then he knew that the Thunder had taken her away, and he went out on the hills and mourned. All night he sat there, trying to think what he might do to get back his wife.

When morning came he rose and wandered away, and whenever he met any of the animals he asked if they could tell him where the Thunder lived. The animals laughed, and most of them would not answer.

The Wolf said to him, "Do you think that we would look for the home of the only one we fear? He is our only danger. From all other enemies we can run away, but from him no one can run. He strikes and there we lie. Turn back; go home. Do not look for the place of that dreadful one."

The man kept on and travelled a long distance. At last, after many days, he came to a lodge—a strange lodge, for it was made of stone. Just like any other lodge it looked, only it was made of stone. This was the home of the Raven chief. The man entered.

"Welcome, friend," said the chief of the Ravens; "sit down there," and he pointed to a place. Soon food was placed before the poor man.

When he had finished eating, the Raven chief asked, "Why have you come here?"

"Thunder has stolen my wife," the man answered. "I am looking for his dwelling-place that I may find her."

"Are you brave enough to enter the lodge of that dreadful person?" asked the Raven. "He lives near here. His lodge is of stone like this one, and hanging in it are eyes—the eyes of those he has killed or taken away. He has taken out their eyes and hung them in his lodge. Now, then! Dare you enter there?"

"No," answered the man, "I am afraid. Who could look at such dreadful things and live?"

"No man can," said the Raven; "there is only one old Thunder fears; there is but one he cannot kill. It is we. It is the Ravens. Now I will give you some medicine, and he shall not harm you. You shall enter there and try to find among those eyes your wife's, and if you find them tell the Thunder why you came and make him give them to you. Here, now, is a raven's wing. Point this at him and he will be afraid and start back; but if that should fail, take this arrow. Its shaft is made of elk horn. Take this, I say, and shoot it through the lodge."

"Why make a fool of me?" the poor man asked. "My heart is sad. I am crying." He covered his head with his robe and wept.

"Oh," said the Raven, "you do not believe me. Come outside, come outside, and I will make you believe."

When they stood outside the Raven asked, "Is the home of your people far?"

"A great distance," said the man.

"Can you tell how many days you have travelled?"

"No," he replied, "my heart was sad; I did not count the days. Since I left, the berries have grown and ripened."

"Can you see your camp from here?" asked the Raven.

The man did not answer. Then the Raven rubbed some medicine on his eyes and said, "Look!" The man looked and saw the camp. It was near. He saw the people; he saw the smoke rising from the lodges; he saw the painting on some of the lodges.

"Now you will believe," said the Raven. "Take, then, the arrow and the wing, and go and get your wife." The man took these things and went to the Thunder's lodge. He entered and sat down by the doorway.

The Thunder sat at the back of the lodge and looked at him with awful eyes. The man looked above and saw hanging there many pairs of eyes. Among them were those of his wife.

"Why have you come?" said the Thunder in a dreadful voice.

"I seek my wife," said the man, "whom you have stolen. There hang her eyes."

"No man may enter my lodge and live," said the Thunder, and he rose to strike him. Then the man pointed the raven wing at the Thunder, and he fell back on his bed and shivered; but soon he recovered and rose again, and then the man fitted the elk-horn arrow to his bow and shot it through the lodge of stone. Right through that stone it pierced a hole and let the sunlight in.

"Wait," said the Thunder; "stop. You are the stronger, you have the greater medicine. You shall have your wife. Take down her eyes."

The man cut the string that held the eyes, and his wife stood beside him.

"Now," said the Thunder, "you know me. I have great power. In summer I live here; but when winter comes I go far south. I go south with the birds. Here is my pipe. It has strong power. Take it and keep it. After this, when first I come in the spring you shall fill this pipe and light it, and you shall smoke it and pray to me; you and the people. I bring the rain which makes the berries large and ripe. I bring the rain which makes all things grow, and for this you shall pray to me; you and all the people."

Thus the people got their first medicine pipe. It was long ago.


The last lodge had been set up in the Blackfeet winter camp. Evening was closing over the travel-tired people. The sun had dropped beyond the hills not far away. Women were bringing water from the river at the edge of the great circle. Men gathered in quiet groups, weary after the long march of the day. Children called sleepily to each other, and the dogs sniffed about in well-fed content.

Lone Feather wrapped his robe more closely around him and walked slowly from his lodge door and from the camp, off toward the north. He was thinking of many things, and hardly noticed where he was going. Presently as he walked, he heard the sound of persons talking. He stopped to listen. The sound came from a lodge made of stone, close by the river. Quietly he went toward the lodge and saw a thin blue line of smoke coming from the top.

As he approached, an old woman, bent with age and crippled, came from the lodge door and looked at him.

"Will you come into my lodge?" she said, greeting him.

Lone Feather looked at her for a moment in silence. She spoke again. He could not understand her speech, for she belonged to another tribe. By signs she made him know that she wished him to come into her lodge and rest. Lone Feather entered.

Far back from the door crouched two big grizzly bears. She made signs to show that the bears were friendly, and Lone Feather sat down near the door. She stirred the fire, and as she put on fresh wood the sparks flew up toward the smoke hole, which was opened only a little way.

By signs she told him she would go out and open the smoke hole wider, so that the fire might burn more brightly. She was gone for some time, and Lone Feather sat looking into the fire, still thinking of many things, when the air became thick with smoke. He looked up and saw that the smoke hole was closed. He sprang up and went to the door, but the door covering was down. He raised it, and as he put his head out the old woman hit him with a large stone club and he was dead.

Before his spirit started for the Sand Hills he saw that with a large knife she cut up his body and put the pieces into a pot. Soon they were well cooked and the old woman and the two bears feasted on his flesh.

They threw his bones out of the door, where they fell among many others like them. The ground was strewn with the bones of the persons she had trapped and killed.

Day by day other persons disappeared from the winter camp, and more and more bones whitened on the ground outside the stone lodge on the river bank.

As Cold Maker was bringing the snow to the Blackfeet winter camp, he passed the Sand Hills. Lone Feather and other ghosts from the Blackfeet tribe were telling each other how the old woman had sent them there. Cold Maker heard their stories and he was angry.

When he reached the camp he went to the lodge of Broken Bow—a brave young man, but very poor.

He shivered when Cold Maker entered his lodge and drew his ragged robe about him. They were close friends.

"Would you like to have a new robe?" asked Cold Maker.

"Yes," said Broken Bow.

"Come with me. You may kill two grizzly bears," said Cold Maker.

"My bow is broken. I cannot," said Broken Bow sadly.

"I will help you. Bring only a knife."

Together they went from the lodges toward the north. The sun was already hidden behind the nearby hills.

After they had travelled some distance they heard the sound of voices. They listened. Two bears were complaining that they wanted meat. A woman told them they must wait. The men saw the line of thin blue smoke rising from the top of the lodge of stone. All about whitening bones covered the ground. They went nearer.

Soon an old woman, bent with age and crippled, came from the door and smiled as she saw the two persons coming.

"Come in and rest," she said. Broken Bow did not understand her language, but Cold Maker, who understands all tribes, said, "We are cold. Will you let us sit by your fire?"

The old woman smiled again.

"You are welcome," she said; "come in. Do not fear my bears. They are friendly. They will not harm you." The two friends entered the lodge, where a smouldering fire sent a feeble smoke up to the smoke hole, that was partly open. She put fresh wood on the fire and said, "I will open the smoke hole wider," and went out, dropping the door covering as she went.

Then she closed the smoke hole. The smoke began to fill the top of the lodge. It settled lower and lower. Broken Bow was afraid.

"Give me your pipe," said Cold Maker.

Broken Bow filled his pipe and, handed it to him. He lighted it by a brand from the fire, and sent great puffs of smoke curling upward. This smoke met the other smoke and stopped it. It could not descend any lower.

Broken Bow saw the wonderful medicine of his friend. He was no longer afraid, but wondered what Cold Maker would do next. The grizzly bears growled low.

The old woman outside called to them, "Friends, is it smoking in there now?"

"Not a bit," replied Cold Maker. "We are very comfortable."

She waited. They did not come out. She stood near the door. Her stone club was ready. She grew impatient. She wondered what had gone wrong with her plans. The two friends were silent. She looked at the smoke hole, but it was closed securely. She lifted the door covering to see if the friends within had died. They sat perfectly still. She entered to look more closely, and as soon as she was fairly inside Cold Maker and Broken Bow rushed out and dropped the door covering. Before she could move they piled great heaps of stone in the door-way. The bears growled. She called for help. Cold Maker and Broken Bow went on down the river.

Then Cold Maker took from a little sack a few white eagle-down feathers. He blew them from him. At once a fierce storm blew across the valley. The bitter cold froze the water, but only in this one place. It dammed the stream with fast forming ice. The water rose higher and higher. It spread out over the banks. Cold Maker and Broken Bow went far off on the hills and watched it. Little by little it rose. It reached the stone lodge. The bears roared. The woman screamed. The water reached the top and covered the lodge from sight. All sound ceased. A moment more, and the water was quiet. Once more Cold Maker blew from him a few white eagle-down feathers. The storm subsided. It became warm again. The ice melted. The water retreated to its channel.

Cold Maker and Broken Bow went to the stone lodge. The woman was lying beside the pot. The grizzly bears were close to the stones which blocked the door-way.

Cold Maker said, "Here is your new robe," and Broken Bow took from the bears their thick, warm skins.

On his way home Cold Maker again passed the Sand Hills. Entering the country was an old woman bent with age and crippled.

He hurried on.


In the Blackfeet tribe was an association known as the All Comrades. This was made up of a dozen secret societies graded according to age, the members of the younger societies passing, after a few years, into the older ones. This association was in part benevolent and helpful and in part to encourage bravery in war, but its main purpose was to see that the orders of the chiefs were carried out, and to punish offences against the tribe at large. There are stories which explain how these societies came to be instituted, and this one tells how the Society of Bulls began.


It was long, long ago, very far back, that this happened. In those days the people used to kill the buffalo by driving them over a steep place near the river, down which they fell into a great pen built at the foot of the cliff, where the buffalo that had not been killed by the fall were shot with arrows by the men. Then the people went into the pen and skinned the buffalo and cut them up and carried the meat away to their camp. This pen they called piskun.

In those days the people had built a great piskun with high, strong walls. No buffalo could jump over it; not even if a great crowd of them ran against it, could they push it down.

The young men kept going out, as they always did, to try to bring the buffalo to the edge of the cliff, but somehow they would not jump over into the piskun. When they had come almost to the edge, they would turn off to one side or the other and run down the sloping hills and away over the prairie. So the people could get no food, and they began to be hungry, and at last to starve.

Early one morning a young woman, the daughter of a brave man, was going from her lodge down to the stream to get water, and as she went along she saw a herd of buffalo feeding on the prairie, close to the edge of the cliff above the great piskun.

"Oh," she called out, "if you will only jump off into the piskun I will marry one of you." She did not mean this, but said it just in fun, and as soon as she had said it, she wondered greatly when she saw the buffalo come jumping over the edge, falling down the cliff.

A moment later a big bull jumped high over the wall of the piskun and came toward her, and now truly she was frightened.

"Come," he said, taking hold of her arm.

"No, no," she answered, trying to pull herself away.

"But you said if the buffalo would only jump over, you would marry one of them. Look, the piskun is full."

She did not answer, and without saying anything more he led her up over the bluff and out on the prairie.

After the people had finished killing the buffalo and cutting up the meat, they missed this young woman. No one knew where she had gone, and her relations were frightened and very sad because they could not find her. So her father took his bow and quiver and put them on his back and said, "I will go and find her"; and he climbed the bluff and set out over the prairie.

He travelled some distance, but saw nothing of his daughter. The sun was hot, and at length he came to a buffalo wallow in which some water was standing, and drank and sat down to rest. A little way off on the prairie he saw a herd of buffalo. As the man sat there by the wallow, trying to think what he might do to find his daughter, a magpie came up and alighted on the ground near him. The man spoke to it, saying, "Măm-ī-ăt'sī-kĭmĭ—Magpie—you are a beautiful bird; help me, for I am very unhappy. As you travel about over the prairie, look everywhere, and if you see my daughter say to her, 'Your father is waiting by the wallow.'"

Soon the magpie flew away, and as he passed near the herd of buffalo he saw the young woman there, and alighting on the ground near her, he began to pick at things, turning his head this way and that, and seeming to look for food. When he was close to the girl he said to her, "Your father is waiting by the wallow."

"Sh-h-h! Sh-h-h!" replied the girl in a whisper, looking about her very much frightened, for her bull husband was sleeping close by. "Do not speak so loud. Go back and tell him to wait."

"Your daughter is over there with the buffalo. She says 'Wait,'" said the magpie when he had flown back to the poor father.

After a little time the bull awoke and said to his wife, "Go and bring me some water." Then the woman was glad, and she took a horn from her husband's head and went to the wallow for water.

"Oh, why did you come?" she said to her father. "They will surely kill you."

"I came to take my daughter back to my lodge. Come, let us go."

"No," said the girl, "not now. They will surely chase us and kill us. Wait until he sleeps again and I will try to get away." Then she filled the horn with water and went back to the buffalo.

Her husband drank a swallow of the water, and when he took the horn it made a noise. "Ah," he said, as he looked about, "a person is somewhere close by."

"No one," replied the girl, but her heart stood still. The bull drank again. Then he stood up on his feet and moaned and grunted, "M-m-ah-oo! Bu-u-u!" Fearful was the sound. Up rose the other bulls, raised their tails in the air, tossed their heads and bellowed back to him. Then they pawed the earth, thrust their horns into it, rushed here and there, and presently, coming to the wallow, found there the poor man. They rushed over him, trampling him with their great hoofs, thrust their horns into his body and tore him to pieces, and trampled him again. Soon not even a piece of his body could be seen—only the wet earth cut up by their hoofs.

Then his daughter mourned in sorrow. "Oh! Ah! Ni-nah-ah! Oh! Ah! Ni-nah-ah!"—Ah, my father, my father.

"Ah," said her bull husband; "now you understand how it is that we feel. You mourn for your father; but we have seen our fathers, mothers, and many of our relations fall over the high cliffs, to be killed for food by your people. But now I will pity you, I will give you one chance. If you can bring your father to life, you and he may go back to your camp."

Then said the woman, "Ah, magpie, pity me, help me; for now I need help. Look in the trampled mud of the wallow and see if you can find even a little piece of my father's body and bring it to me."

Swiftly the magpie flew to the wallow, and alighting there, walked all about, looking in every hole and even tearing up the mud with his sharp beak. Presently he uncovered something white, and as he picked the mud from about it, he saw it was a bone, and pulling hard, he dragged it from the mud—the joint of a man's backbone. Then gladly he flew back with it to the woman.

The girl put the bone on the ground and covered it with her robe and began to sing. After she had sung she took the robe away, and there under it lay her father's body, as if he had just died. Once again she covered the body with the robe and sang, and this time when she took the robe away the body was breathing. A third time she covered the body with the robe and sang, and when she again took away the robe, the body moved its arms and legs a little. A fourth time she covered it and sang, and when she took away the robe her father stood up.

The buffalo were surprised and the magpie was glad, and flew about making a great noise.

"Now this day we have seen a strange thing," said her bull husband. "The people's medicine is strong. He whom we trampled to death, whom our hoofs cut to pieces and mixed all up with the soil, is alive again. Now you shall go to your home, but before you go we will teach you our dance and our song. Do not forget them."

The buffalo showed the man and his daughter their dance and taught them the songs, and then the bull said to them, "Now you are to go back to your home, but do not forget what you have seen. Teach the people this dance and these songs, and while they are dancing it let them wear a bull's head and a robe. Those who are to be of the Bulls Society shall wear them."

When the poor man returned with his daughter, all the people were glad. Then after a time he called a council of the chiefs and told them the things that had happened. The chiefs chose certain young men to be Bulls, and the man taught them the dance and the song, and told them everything that they should do.

So began the Bull Society.


For a long time the buffalo had not been seen. Every one was hungry, for the hunters could find no food for the people.

A certain man, who had two wives, a daughter, and two sons, as he saw what a hard time they were having, said, "I shall not stop here to die. To-morrow we will move toward the mountains, where we may kill elk and deer and sheep and antelope, or, if not these, at least we shall find beaver and birds, and can get them. In this way we shall have food to eat and shall live."

Next morning they caught their dogs and harnessed them to the travois and took their loads on their backs and set out. It was still winter, and they travelled slowly. Besides, they were weak from hunger and could go only a short distance in a day. The fourth night came, and they sat in their lodge, tired and hungry. No one spoke, for people who are hungry do not care to talk. Suddenly, outside, the dogs began to bark, and soon the door was pushed aside and a young man entered.

"Welcome," said the man, and he motioned to a place where the stranger should sit.

Now during this day there had been blowing a warm wind which had melted the snow, so that the prairie was covered with water, yet this young man's moccasins and leggings were dry. They saw this, and were frightened. They sat there for a long time, saying nothing.

Then the young man spoke and asked, "Why is this? Why do you not give me food?"

"Ah," replied the father, "you see here people who are truly poor. We have no food. For many days the buffalo did not come in sight, and we looked for deer and other animals, which people eat, and when these had all been killed we began to starve. Then I said, 'We will not stay here to die from hunger,' and we set out for the mountains. This is the fourth night of our travels."

"Ah," said the young man, "then your travels are ended. You need go no farther. Close by here is our piskun. Many buffalo have been run in, and our parfleches are filled with dried meat. Wait a little; I will go and bring you some," and he went out.

As soon as he had gone they began to talk about this strange person. They were afraid of him and did not know what to do. The children began to cry, and the women tried to quiet them. Presently the young man came back, bringing some meat.

"There is food," said he, as he put it down by the woman. "Now to-morrow move your camp over to our lodges. Do not fear anything. No matter what strange things you may see, do not fear. All will be your friends. Yet about one thing I must warn you. In this you should be careful. If you should find an arrow lying about anywhere, in the piskun or outside, do not touch it, neither you nor your wives nor your children." When he had said this he went out.

The father took his pipe and filled it, and smoked and prayed to all the powers, saying, "Hear now, Sun; listen, Above People; listen, Underwater People; now you have taken pity; now you have given us food. We are going to those mysterious ones who walk through water with dry moccasins. Protect us among these to-be-feared people. Let us live. Man, woman, and child, give us long life."

Now from the fire again arose the smell of roasting meat. The children ate and played. Those who so long had been silent now talked and laughed.

Early in the morning, as soon as the sun had risen, they took down their lodge and packed their dogs and started for the camp of the stranger. When they had come to where they could see it, they found it a wonderful place. There around the piskun, and stretching far up and down the valley, were pitched the lodges of the meat eaters. They could not see them all, but near by they saw the lodges of the Bear band, the Fox band, and the Raven band. The father of the young man who had visited them and given them meat was the chief of the Wolf band, and by that band they pitched their lodge. Truly that was a happy place. Food was plenty. All day long people were shouting out for feasts, and everywhere was heard the sound of drumming and singing and dancing.

The newly come people went to the piskun for meat, and there one of the children saw an arrow lying on the ground. It was a beautiful arrow, the stone point long, slender, and sharp, the shaft round and straight. The boy remembered what had been said and he looked around fearfully, but everywhere the people were busy. No one was looking. He picked up the arrow and put it under his robe.

Then there rose a terrible sound. All the animals howled and growled and rushed toward him, but the chief Wolf got to him first, and holding up his hand said, "Wait. He is young and not yet of good sense. We will let him go this time." They did nothing to him.

When night came some one shouted out, calling people to a feast and saying, "Listen, listen, Wolf, you are to eat; enter with your friend."

"We are invited," said the chief Wolf to his new friend, and together they went to the lodge from which the call came.

Within the lodge the fire burned brightly, and seated around it were many men, the old and wise of the Raven band. On the lodge lining, hanging behind the seats, were the paintings of many great deeds. Food was placed before the guests—pemican and berries and dried back fat—and after they had eaten the pipe was lighted and passed around the circle. Then the Raven chief spoke and said, "Now, Wolf, I am going to give our new friend a present. What do you think of that?"

"It shall be as you say," replied the Wolf; "our new friend will be glad."

From a long parfleche sack the Raven chief took a slender stick, beautifully ornamented with many-colored feathers. To the end of the stick was tied the skin of a raven—head, wings, feet, and tail.

"We," said the Raven chief, "are those who carry the raven (Măs-to-pāh'-tă-kīks). Of all the fliers, of all the birds, what one is so smart as the raven? None. The raven's eyes are sharp, his wings are strong. He is a great hunter and never hungry. Far off on the prairie he sees his food, or if it is deep hidden in the forest it does not escape him. This is our song and our dance."

When he had finished singing and dancing he placed the stick in the sack and gave it to the man and said, "Take it with you, and when you have returned to your people you shall say, 'Now there are already the Bulls, and he who is the Raven chief said, "There shall be more. There shall be the All Friends (Īkŭn-ŭh'-kāh-tsĭ), so that the people may live, and of the All Friends shall be the Raven Bearers."' You shall call a council of the chiefs and wise old men, and they shall choose the persons who are to belong to the society. Teach them the song and the dance, and give them the medicine. It shall be theirs forever."

Soon they heard another person shouting out the feast call, and, going, they entered the lodge of the chief of the Kit-Foxes (Sĭn'-o-pah). Here, too, old men had gathered. After they had eaten of the food set before them, the chief said, "Those among whom you have just come are generous. They do not look carefully at the things they have, but give to the stranger and pity the poor. The kit-fox is a little animal, but what one is smarter? None. His hair is like the dead grass of the prairie; his eyes are keen; his feet make no noise when he walks; his brain is cunning. His ears receive the far-off sound. Here is our medicine. Take it." He gave the man the stick. It was long, crooked at one end, wound with fur, and tied here and there with eagle feathers. At the end was a kit-fox skin. Again the chief spoke and said, "Listen to our song. Do not forget it, and the dance, too, you must remember. When you reach home teach them to the people." He sang and danced. Then presently his guests departed.

Again they heard the feast shout, and he who called was the chief of the Bear society. After they had eaten and smoked the chief said,

"What is your opinion, friend Wolf? Shall we give our new friend a present?"

"It shall be as you say," replied the Wolf. "It is yours to give."

Then spoke the Bear, saying, "There are many animals and some of them are powerful; but the bear is the strongest and greatest of all. He fears nothing and is always ready to fight."

Then he put on a necklace of bear claws, a band of bear fur about his head, and a belt of bear fur, and sang and danced. When he had finished he gave the things he had worn to the man and said, "Teach the people our song and our dance, and give them this medicine. It is powerful."

It was very late. The Seven Stars had come to the middle of the night, yet again they heard the feast shout from the far end of the camp. In this lodge the men were painted with streaks of red, and their hair was all pushed to one side. After the feast the chief said, "We are different from all others here. We are called the Braves (Mŭt'-sĭks). We know not fear; we are death. Even if our enemies are as many as the grass we do not turn away, but fight and conquer. Bows are good weapons, lances are better; but our weapon is the knife."

Then the chief sang and danced, and afterward he gave the Wolf chief's friend the medicine. It was a long knife and many scalps were tied on the handle. "This," said he, "is for the All Friends."

To one more lodge they were called that night and the lodge owner taught the man his song and dance, and gave him his medicine. Then the Wolf chief and his friend went home and slept.

Early next day the Blackfeet women began to take down the lodge and to get ready to move their camp. Many women came and made them presents of food, dried meat, pemican, and berries. They were given so much that they could not take it all with them. It was long before they joined the main camp, for it had moved south, looking for buffalo.

When they reached the camp, as soon as the lodge was pitched, the man called all the chiefs to come and feast with him, and told them what he had seen, and showed them the different medicines. Then the chiefs chose certain young men to belong to the different societies, and this man taught them the songs and dances, and gave its medicine to each society.


The chief god of the Blackfeet is the Sun. He made the world and rules it, and to him the people pray. One of his names is Napi—old man; but there is another Napi who is very different from the Sun, and instead of being great, wise, and wonderful, is foolish, mean, and contemptible. We shall hear about him further on.

Every year in summer, about the time the berries ripen, the Blackfeet used to hold the great festival and sacrifice which we call the ceremony of the Medicine Lodge. This was a time of happy meetings, of feasting, of giving presents; but besides this rejoicing, those men who wished to have good-luck in whatever they might undertake tried to prove their prayers sincere by sacrificing their bodies, torturing themselves in ways that caused great suffering. In ancient times, as we are told in books of history, things like that used to happen among many peoples all over the world.

It was the law that the building of the Medicine Lodge must always be pledged by a good woman. If a woman had a son or a husband away at war and feared that he was in danger, or if she had a child that was sick and might die, she might pray for the safety of the one she loved, and promise that if he returned or recovered she would build a Medicine Lodge. This pledge was made in a loud voice, publicly, in open air, so that all might know the promise had been made.

At the time appointed all the tribe came together and pitched their lodges in a great circle, and within this circle the Medicine Lodge was built. The ceremony lasted for four days and four nights, during which time the woman who had promised to make the Medicine Lodge neither ate nor drank, except once in sacrifice. Different stories are told of how the first Medicine Lodge came to be built. This is one of those stories:

In the earliest times there was a man who had a very beautiful daughter. Many young men wished to marry her, but whenever she was asked she shook her head and said she did not wish to marry.

"Why is this?" said her father. "Some of these young men are rich, handsome, and brave."

"Why should I marry?" replied the girl. "My father and mother take care of me. Our lodge is good; the parfleches are never empty; there are plenty of tanned robes and soft furs for winter. Why trouble me, then?"

Soon after, the Raven Bearers held a dance. They all painted themselves nicely and wore their finest ornaments and each one tried to dance the best. Afterward some of them asked for this girl, but she said, "No." After that the Bulls, the Kit-Foxes, and others of the All Comrades held their dances, and many men who were rich and some great warriors asked this man for his daughter, but to every one she said, "No."

Then her father was angry, and he said, "Why is this? All the best men have asked for you, and still you say 'No.'" Then the girl said, "Father, listen to me. That Above Person, the Sun, said to me, 'Do not marry any of these men, for you belong to me. Listen to what I say, and you shall be happy and live to a great age.' And again he said to me, 'Take heed, you must not marry; you are mine.'"

"Ah!" replied her father; "it must always be as he says"; and they spoke no more about it.

There was a poor young man. He was very poor. His father, his mother, and all his relations were dead. He had no lodge, no wife to tan his robes or make his moccasins. His clothes were always old and worn. He had no home. To-day he stopped in one lodge; then to-morrow he ate and slept in another. Thus he lived. He had a good face, but on his cheek was a bad scar.

After they had held those dances, some of the young men met this poor Scarface, and they laughed at him and said, "Why do not you ask that girl to marry you? You are so rich and handsome."

1  2  3     Next Part
Home - Random Browse