(Told by Hoka-chatka.)
Long ago, a man took a woman to live with him. She bore him two daughters, then a son, and then two more daughters. They cared for these children until they grew up. When the boy was grown, he hunted and provided the family with everything, so the woman said it was just as she wished, for her man could then remain quietly at home and the young man would provide everything they needed.
One day, the boy went hunting to the west and did not come back. They thought he was lost and searched for him, but could not find him. After a time, they saw two persons coming, and they went to the top of a hill to see who they were. When they came close it was seen that one was the son they thought was lost and the other was a woman, so they knew that he was bringing a woman home to be his wife. They all went to meet them and make them welcome. The two oldest girls told the two youngest to go back for this woman was to be their sister. So the youngest went back, but felt bad because this woman was not their sister also.
This woman was beautiful and had long black hair. The brother saw that the younger sisters grieved because they had no sister-in-law to love, so he went east, and after he had been gone some days they saw him coming back with another woman. Again, they all went out to welcome him, but the younger sisters told the older to go back, for this woman was to be their sister. The older sisters went back, and the younger sisters welcomed her. She was beautiful and had long yellow hair.
Each of these two women gave birth to a son at about the same time. The woman with the black hair went over a hill. The man's father watched her and went to the top of the hill and saw her lying in a buffalo wallow. She was like a buffalo and gave birth to a buffalo calf. So he went back and told his son, but the son said nothing. Soon the woman came back carrying a little boy, Then the yellow-haired woman went out. The old man watched her and saw her go to the rushes and high grass. One rush was very large and there was a little rush by it. Then a whirlwind blew the rushes down and he saw a woman arranging her dress so he knew that she was a rush woman and had given birth to a rush baby. He came back and told his son, but he said nothing. The woman came back carrying a baby boy. The sisters kept these two little boys and cared for them so that they were strong and healthy.
When these two boys grew old enough to play, the old man went to the timber and got five green ash withes. He heated them in the fire and peeled them and bent them so that they formed hoops. He then told his wife to give him the skin from the belly of a buffalo which he cut into long strips and wove on the hoops so as to make a web. He then got four long willow withes and trimmed them so that they were like spears.
He then taught his grandchildren how to roll the web hoops on the ground and to throw the spears so as to go through the webs and he made rules for the game. This was the origin of the web-hoop game. He did this to keep the boys from going away and had them play the game every day so that they became expert at it.
One day, the yellow-haired boy threw the hoop and knocked the black-haired boy down. This did not hurt him, but he cried and went to his mother about it. She became surly and sat with her robe over her head and would speak to no one. The yellow-haired woman tried to, pacify her and told her that all children were alike and had accidents like this. Then the black-haired woman said that the boy was not a human child but a rush boy and that he had knocked her boy down for spite. Then the yellow-haired woman replied that the black-haired boy was not a human child but that he was a buffalo with wide nostrils. Then the black-haired woman took her boy and started west. The old man went on a hill to watch her. He saw a buffalo cow running very fast with a buffalo calf beside her. He returned and told his family that the woman was a buffalo and had run away so fast that she could not be overtaken.
The father said that he would go after them. So he put on his leggings and moccasins and quiver and was ready to go when his yellow-haired wife told him to go with her to the timber. When they got to the timber, she cut four cherry bushes and trimmed them so that they were slender and straight. She then told him to ask his father for the crow quills and sinews and white paint he had. He did so and his father gave them to him. She then made arrows of the cherry wood and fastened the web from the crow quills to the arrows with the sinews, and painted them white with the paint and gave them to her husband and told him that whatever he shot with the arrows, they would kill.
She then gave him an eagle plume and fastened it on his head and told him to call her when he was in trouble, and she would help him. She then told him to shoot one of the white arrows in the direction his black-haired woman went and to follow the arrow. He shot one of the white arrows, and it floated in the air so that he could follow it. He followed it all day, traveling very fast. In the evening, the arrow fell and stuck on the bank of a creek. When he came up to it he saw a tipi on the other side and his boy by the tipi.
He went to the tipi. The boy said he had told his mother that his father was coming and she had said that no human being could travel so fast all day without killing himself and that she would dry up all the water on the way, the next day, so that he would die if he attempted to follow her. But when her man came, she spoke to him pleasantly and gave him food to eat and said he must be very tired and had better lie down and sleep. Before he went to sleep, the boy told him to watch his track.
He went to sleep in the tipi and when he awoke the next morning he was lying with only his own clothing and his bow and arrows and there was no tipi to be seen. He said "o-o-woof" like a bear. He looked about to see where there. had been dew during the night and he saw which way his woman and the boy had gone. He shot a white arrow in that direction and followed it. It was a hot day and all the water dried up, so that at midday he was about to perish from thirst. Then he remembered that his boy had told him to watch his track. He looked for it and in the bottom of a dry creek he saw a deep track which he found almost full of water.
He thought he would drink all this water but the water came into it as fast as he drank it. He wet his face and hands and drank until he was no longer thirsty. He then ran after the white arrow all the rest of the day. In the evening the arrow stuck on the bank of a creek where there was plenty of water. When he came to the arrow he saw a tipi on the other side of the creek. His boy came out to meet him and told him that his mother had said that no human being could run as fast and as long as
he had done and not kill himself, that she had expected him to die that day, that she would make the streams all so muddy the next day that one could not cross them. He said to the boy, "My son, I do not care when or how I die, for it is for you."
When he came to the tipi, the woman spoke to him very pleasantly and gave him food and said he must be very tired and advised him to lie down and sleep. So he lay down and went to sleep. Then the woman lay down beside him and went to sleep. He tied his rawhide belt through her belt and wrapped her long black hair around his arm and tied it there and then went to sleep.
He awoke next morning and found himself lying out with nothing near him but his bow and arrows and no tipi to be seen. He said, "O-O-woof," like an angry bear and looked about him. The dew showed which way the woman and the boy had gone and he shot a white arrow that way and followed. After a time, he came to a river full of mud. He faced towards the east and said, "Oh my yellow-haired woman. You told me to call on you. if I were in trouble. I now ask you to help me."
Then a whirlwind came and lifted him by the eagle plume and carried him across the river of mud. When he was crossing, he saw a buffalo cow and calf in the mud and he sat on the bank of the river to see d they got across. When they got across, they began to roll in the sand to get the mud off and the calf saw him and said to the cow, "Here is my father."
When the cow and the calf were again transformed, the woman put a robe over her head, for she was ashamed, but the boy came to his father and told him that the woman had said he would follow them into the mud and die there. Then the boy told his father that they were nearly at the place that his mother had started for, and that he should follow them; that his mother had three sisters that were exactly like her so that no one could tell the one from the other; that his mother's mother was a very wicked old woman and would try to find some excuse for killing him; that when they got to his grandmother's place she would send the four sisters to come to her tipi with him, and if he should come with one that was not his woman, the old woman would kill him; and that he would come out of the tipi and play about when his mother was sent to bring him in. The boy said that if he came to the tipi, the old woman would tell him to lay his bow and arrows on his woman's things and if he should lay them on the things of one of the women who was not his, the old woman would kill him; and that he would play with his mother's things so that he would know which were hers. Then he said the old woman would tell him to sit with his woman and he would stick a straw in the hair of his mother so that he might know which was she, for if he sat with one who was not his woman the old woman would kill him.
That night they slept together. The next morning the boy and his mother went ahead and the man followed a long distance behind. He came to the top of a hill and saw a valley with a great camp in it and all the people were buffaloes. In the center of the camp wag a lodge with four flap doors. He saw his woman go in at one of these doors. So he sat on the hill to watch and an ugly old woman came out of the lodge with a woman who looked like his woman. The old woman was scolding the other, and told her to go and bring her man to the lodge and give him something to eat. So the woman came to him and told him her mother was cross because she had not brought him to the tipi and asked him to come with her and get something to eat. He did not see his boy playing so he told the woman to go back and he would come.
She went back. The old woman came out again with a woman that looked
like his wife and said to her, "Don't be bashful but bring him with you and give him something to eat." The woman came to him and said her mother was angry because he had not gone to the lodge with her and she begged him to go with her and get something to eat. But he did not see his boy playing, so he told her to go back and he would come. She went back and the old woman came out again with a woman that looked like his wife and she scolded her and said, "You are too bashful; you must get used to having him here with you. He is human and must be very hungry. Go and get him and bring him to the lodge and get him something to eat."
So the woman came to him and said, "My mother wants you to come with me to the lodge so that I may give you something to eat. But he did not see his boy playing and he told her to go back and he would come later. Then the old woman came out of the lodge with a woman that looked like his wife and said to her, "You are too bashful, go and bring your man to the lodge and give him something to eat." The boy came out and began to play about. The woman came to him and said, "My mother is angry because you will not come with me to the lodge." He said to her, "I will go with you." He went to the lodge.
When he came to the lodge, the old woman spoke pleasantly to him and told him to go into the lodge. He saw that the lodge was of stone and the door flaps were heavy stones. As be was going in, the old woman slammed the flap to catch him and crush him to death, but his plume lifted him to the center of the lodge so that he was not hurt. The old woman said the wind had blown the flap from her hands and told him to lay his bow and arrows on his woman's things. He saw the boy playing with things and he laid his bow and arrows on them. Then the old woman told him to sit down by his woman and he saw a straw in the hair of a woman and sat down by her. Then the old woman told him that he must be more than human, for she could not tell one of her daughters from the other, but he knew which was his woman.
The next morning, at the break of day, the old woman was raging and scolding her daughters and told them to get up and get food for the man. When they were up she said she would go to the tipi of the Cow Woman and get her food. After a while, she returned in a rage and said she had gone to the tipi of a bad woman to get cherry wood to make pins to pin a tipi together and she had given her this, and she threw a crooked and broken cherry bush down in the lodge and went out.
The man asked his woman where he could find cherry bushes and she told him that plenty of good cherry bushes grew in a canyon near by, but that they were hard to get. He asked her how to find them and she told him. He went for them. When he got there he saw bones of men and animals lying all about, and when he looked at the bushes he saw that they were spotted and striped like snakes and that a rattlesnake,, was coiled around each bush. All the snakes crawled towards him hissing and rattling and ready to bite him. He took the plume from his head and fastened it to his bow and waved it towards the snakes and they were all killed. He then cut ten of the finest of the bushes, and took them to the lodge and gave them to the old woman. They were all surprised to see him again for they thought the snakes would surely kill him.
Then the old woman was afraid and told him to take the bushes out of the lodge because they would cause her death if they were kept there. He took them out of the lodge and told his boy to choose four of the best of them. When he did so he made four arrows and gave them to his boy and told him to hang them in the lodge, which he did. At daybreak, the next morning, the old woman was raging and
scolding her daughters and told them to get up and get food for the man while she went to the tipi of the Cow Woman.
After a time, she came to the lodge with a young bird just hatched. It had no feathers on it and its stomach was large and ugly. She threw it down in the lodge and said that the Cow Woman had pretty little birds which her daughter's man had brought to her but she could only get an ugly young bird like that.
Then the man asked his woman where he could get birds and she told him that beyond the big bend of the river, there were plenty of pretty birds but that they were hard to get and she told him how to find the place. He went to the place and found some very tall trees with large branches very high, and on these branches were nests made of elkhorns and bones. All about the trees were bones of men and beasts that were piled high under the trees. He saw that he could not climb the trees, so he turned towards his rush-wife and called on her. A whirlwind took hold of the plume and lifted him into the trees, beside the nests.
In the nests he saw four large birds, fully plumaged, which he killed with the white arrows and threw down to the ground. Then the whirlwind lifted him by the plume and placed him on the ground. When he got to the ground, he saw a small cloud coming up very fast. It grew and came quickly so that it covered the sky and made it dark and the lightning flashed and thunder sounded so that it shook the earth. Then the wind blew hard and large hailstones fell and he got under one of the nests for shelter. Then he heard a voice which said, "You are hiding under the love of children. Come out of this shelter or you will be killed." But he stayed under the shelter and was not killed. Then the storm passed and the plume took him to the ground. When he got to the ground, the hail was very deep and piled in great drifts. The wind and hail had destroyed the trees and brush and many tipis at the camp of the buffalo.
He started for the camp with the dead birds and found that the hail had destroyed many things. When he came to the lodge he threw the birds down before the old woman, who was very much surprised for she and her daughters had sent him to the nests of the Thunderbirds and they thought these birds would kill him. The old woman screamed to him to take the birds out of the lodge, for they would bring disaster on one having them. The daughters took the birds and threw them away, but the father told his son to get feathers from them. When he did so the father placed the web from these feathers on the arrows he had made from the mysterious cherry bushes and gave them to the boy and told him to hang them in the lodge.
At the break of day, the next morning, the old woman was raging and scolding her daughters and bade them get up and get food while she went to the tipi of the Cow Woman. She came back and told the man that the buffaloes had a feast that day and all would be present and that they had invited him and he must be present, that the association for the love of children had a session that day and he must be present and take part in the ceremonies, that the buffaloes would dance in a circle and stamp out all the grass in the circle and perhaps the world would come to an end.
The boy told his father that the old woman would ask him to lead out her grandchild to take part in the ceremonies of the love of children, that all the calves would look alike, but the grandchild would shake its left ear and he would know it by this sign. He went and the animals danced in a circle and made a great dust which rose in a great cloud from the center of the circle as if a whirlwind were carrying it to the skies. The old woman told him that such circles would always be found.
Where the buffaloes danced they made a circle and afterwards the grass grew green and high in this circle. Such places may be seen to this day and where the grass grows different from that about it and in a circle, the Indians say that is where the buffaloes danced.
During the ceremonies, the old woman told the man to go and bring her grandchild to her. The man saw a calf shake its left ear and he brought it to the old woman. The old woman was surprised and told him that he must be more than human. She had sent her daughters to him who looked so much alike that she could not tell them apart and he knew which was his wife, that he had taken the mysterious cherry bushes, which no one had ever done before, and he had gone to the nests of the Thunderbirds and robbed them when always before when one approached them they were killed, and he had done everything she had asked of him.
He replied that she had been trying to find an excuse for killing him, and had tried to have him killed in every way she could devise, but he had outwitted her every time.
At break of day the next morning the old woman was raging and scolding her daughters and bade them get up and get food while she went to the tipi of the Cow Woman. After a while, she came back and told the men that the buffaloes were to play the elk game and asked him to dress up well. So he went to the game and while he was there, the old woman went to a tipi where a mysterious buffalo lived, and told him that the man was making love to his youngest wife. She taunted him and told him that he was afraid of the man and provoked him to a great rage.
The mysterious buffalo started for the place where the game was being played; he bellowed loud and long and threw up clouds of dust and dirt so that all the buffaloes were afraid and ran away but the man did not run. The old woman asked the man to protect them. Then the mysterious buffalo charged upon the man and just as he was about to toss the man with his horns, the plume lifted the man out of danger. He shot a white arrow which went through the mysterious buffalo's body from side to side. The buffalo charged him again and the plume lifted him above all danger. He shot another white arrow which went through the buffalo's body from end to end. The buffalo charged him again and the plume lifted him out of danger. He shot the buffalo with another white arrow which went through the body from side to side. Then the buffalo was weak and staggering and the old woman cried out that the man would kill the buffalo, and called the other buffaloes to help the mysterious buffalo, but they would not. Then the buffalo charged the man again. He was lifted out of danger by the plume and shot the buffalo with a fourth white arrow which went through the body from end to end and the buffalo fell down and died.
Then the boy said to the man, "You have killed my grandfather and I will kill my grandmother." So he took the four arrows which his father had made from the mysterious cherry wood and feathered with the feathers of the Thunderbirds and shot them into his grandmother. The old woman fell down and died.
The buffaloes were standing about on the hills and saw all this, and they were afraid to come into the valley for fear the men would kill them also but he told his sons to tell them to come back that he would do them no harm and that he only wanted to kill the mysterious buffalo. So they all came back and formed a circle and put the wisest in the center, to speak for them. This wise buffalo said to the man, "We are pleased with what you have done today, for the mysterious buffalo and the old woman who was his woman have always made much trouble for us and
we are glad to get rid of them." They were glad that they were killed. He said that though the man was human and his wife half human and half buffalo, if he would stay with them always they would have him for chief and give him as many women as he wanted, that he was brought up in the east where they had not much meat, but if he would stay with them they would travel east and give to his people all the meat they wanted. He said they would give their flesh for the benefit of the people and they would teach his people the elk game and institute among them the association for the love of children.
He chose four old buffaloes, like four old men, with canes, who had a large progeny. They agreed to take their progeny east for the benefit of the people. (This was the coming of the buffalo). He said, "These four will travel the trails for the water that is red (chokecherries mixed with water), for the pipe, for the eagle plume, and for the red tanned skins for clothing." (The origin of the buffalo ceremony.) Men will do this in the future to commemorate what you have done. These old buffalo were to travel in the early morning in the mist of their breath. At each creek where they camped for the night, the cows would drop milk where they nourished their calves and this would be nourishment for children. The man said, "How," and all the buffalo people said, "How."
They told him he must throw away his woman, who was the daughter of the mysterious buffalo and the old woman, and they would give him all the wives he wanted. He did so. This is why the buffalo have many wives. So he drove the daughters of the old women away. When he chose a wife it was a young cow that had just come to puberty, they performed a ceremony over her to let him know that she could be his wife (this was the origin of the buffalo ceremony).
At this time the man's Rush wife went and sat on a hill and would speak to no one. His sisters, one by one, beginning with the oldest, went to her and asked her to come to the tipi, and eat and rest, but she would not answer them. Then his mother went to her but she would not notice her. Then his father went to her and coaxed her to come to the tipi to rest and eat. She told him to return to the tipi, and when he had done so she would come. When the two younger sisters saw him coming, they ran out and helped her along and brought her into the tipi where all ministered to her until she was strong again, for they all loved her.
When she was strong she told them the story of her man and how he had found her among the rushes and made her his woman, how he had gone in search of his other woman, of the trials and dangers he had passed through, and of the help she had given them, and that now he had abandoned them and was living with the buffalo, but that he did this for the love of little children so that they might have plenty of meat to eat, that he belonged to them and to her but they would give him up as one dead so that all might have plenty of meat. Then they all wept and mourned for one moon. Then she bade them to quit mourning and listen to her. "Our man that provided for us is gone and we will see him no more. We must make other arrangements to live, we must move to the Big Bend (of the Missouri River) and we will live there."
When they moved to the big bend she told each of the sisters to dig up the ground and they did so. She gave them strange seed and told them to put it in the ground and they did so. The strange seed that she gave the sisters sprouted like grass but was larger, and when it was grown it had a branch of leaves (Wah uw apa). (This was the origin of corn.) The strange sod she gave to the father and mother sprouted like the hop vines but was larger and had yellow flowers. The fruit was a bladder,
but thicker, and with many such seeds inside it. (This was the origin of the pumpkin.)
When these were ripened, she showed them how to prepare and cook them so that they were good food. She showed the old man how to dig a cave and put the corn in it so as to save it for the winter time, and taught them how to cache their crops. When they were well provided for young men came and married the sisters, and the Rush woman's boy married a young woman, and from these a new band of people originated.
183:1 This tale has many points in common with a (¢egiha narrative. See J. O. Dorsey. The ¢egiha Language (Contributions to American Ethnology, vol. 6, Washington, 1890), 157.